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      Isaac Stokes 1804-1877


      Isaac was born in Churchill, Oxfordshire in 1804, and was the youngest brother of my 4X great grandfather Thomas Stokes. The Stokes family were stone masons for generations in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and Isaac’s occupation was a mason’s labourer in 1834 when he was sentenced at the Lent Assizes in Oxford to fourteen years transportation for stealing tools.

      Churchill where the Stokes stonemasons came from: on 31 July 1684 a fire destroyed 20 houses and many other buildings, and killed four people. The village was rebuilt higher up the hill, with stone houses instead of the old timber-framed and thatched cottages. The fire was apparently caused by a baker who, to avoid chimney tax, had knocked through the wall from her oven to her neighbour’s chimney.

      Isaac stole a pick axe, the value of 2 shillings and the property of Thomas Joyner of Churchill; a kibbeaux and a trowel value 3 shillings the property of Thomas Symms; a hammer and axe value 5 shillings, property of John Keen of Sarsden.

      (The word kibbeaux seems to only exists in relation to Isaac Stokes sentence and whoever was the first to write it was perhaps being creative with the spelling of a kibbo, a miners or a metal bucket. This spelling is repeated in the criminal reports and the newspaper articles about Isaac, but nowhere else).

      In March 1834 the Removal of Convicts was announced in the Oxford University and City Herald: Isaac Stokes and several other prisoners were removed from the Oxford county gaol to the Justitia hulk at Woolwich “persuant to their sentences of transportation at our Lent Assizes”.

      via digitalpanopticon:

      Hulks were decommissioned (and often unseaworthy) ships that were moored in rivers and estuaries and refitted to become floating prisons. The outbreak of war in America in 1775 meant that it was no longer possible to transport British convicts there. Transportation as a form of punishment had started in the late seventeenth century, and following the Transportation Act of 1718, some 44,000 British convicts were sent to the American colonies. The end of this punishment presented a major problem for the authorities in London, since in the decade before 1775, two-thirds of convicts at the Old Bailey received a sentence of transportation – on average 283 convicts a year. As a result, London’s prisons quickly filled to overflowing with convicted prisoners who were sentenced to transportation but had no place to go.

      To increase London’s prison capacity, in 1776 Parliament passed the “Hulks Act” (16 Geo III, c.43). Although overseen by local justices of the peace, the hulks were to be directly managed and maintained by private contractors. The first contract to run a hulk was awarded to Duncan Campbell, a former transportation contractor. In August 1776, the Justicia, a former transportation ship moored in the River Thames, became the first prison hulk. This ship soon became full and Campbell quickly introduced a number of other hulks in London; by 1778 the fleet of hulks on the Thames held 510 prisoners.
      Demand was so great that new hulks were introduced across the country. There were hulks located at Deptford, Chatham, Woolwich, Gosport, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheerness and Cork.

      The Justitia via rmg collections:


      Convicts perform hard labour at the Woolwich Warren. The hulk on the river is the ‘Justitia’. Prisoners were kept on board such ships for months awaiting deportation to Australia. The ‘Justitia’ was a 260 ton prison hulk that had been originally moored in the Thames when the American War of Independence put a stop to the transportation of criminals to the former colonies. The ‘Justitia’ belonged to the shipowner Duncan Campbell, who was the Government contractor who organized the prison-hulk system at that time. Campbell was subsequently involved in the shipping of convicts to the penal colony at Botany Bay (in fact Port Jackson, later Sydney, just to the north) in New South Wales, the ‘first fleet’ going out in 1788.


      While searching for records for Isaac Stokes I discovered that another Isaac Stokes was transported to New South Wales in 1835 as well. The other one was a butcher born in 1809, sentenced in London for seven years, and he sailed on the Mary Ann. Our Isaac Stokes sailed on the Lady Nugent, arriving in NSW in April 1835, having set sail from England in December 1834.

      Lady Nugent was built at Bombay in 1813. She made four voyages under contract to the British East India Company (EIC). She then made two voyages transporting convicts to Australia, one to New South Wales and one to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). (via Wikipedia)

      via freesettlerorfelon website:

      On 20 November 1834, 100 male convicts were transferred to the Lady Nugent from the Justitia Hulk and 60 from the Ganymede Hulk at Woolwich, all in apparent good health. The Lady Nugent departed Sheerness on 4 December 1834.


      Oliver Sproule kept a Medical Journal from 7 November 1834 to 27 April 1835. He recorded in his journal the weather conditions they experienced in the first two weeks:

      ‘In the course of the first week or ten days at sea, there were eight or nine on the sick list with catarrhal affections and one with dropsy which I attribute to the cold and wet we experienced during that period beating down channel. Indeed the foremost berths in the prison at this time were so wet from leaking in that part of the ship, that I was obliged to issue dry beds and bedding to a great many of the prisoners to preserve their health, but after crossing the Bay of Biscay the weather became fine and we got the damp beds and blankets dried, the leaks partially stopped and the prison well aired and ventilated which, I am happy to say soon manifested a favourable change in the health and appearance of the men.

      Besides the cases given in the journal I had a great many others to treat, some of them similar to those mentioned but the greater part consisted of boils, scalds, and contusions which would not only be too tedious to enter but I fear would be irksome to the reader. There were four births on board during the passage which did well, therefore I did not consider it necessary to give a detailed account of them in my journal the more especially as they were all favourable cases.

      Regularity and cleanliness in the prison, free ventilation and as far as possible dry decks turning all the prisoners up in fine weather as we were lucky enough to have two musicians amongst the convicts, dancing was tolerated every afternoon, strict attention to personal cleanliness and also to the cooking of their victuals with regular hours for their meals, were the only prophylactic means used on this occasion, which I found to answer my expectations to the utmost extent in as much as there was not a single case of contagious or infectious nature during the whole passage with the exception of a few cases of psora which soon yielded to the usual treatment. A few cases of scurvy however appeared on board at rather an early period which I can attribute to nothing else but the wet and hardships the prisoners endured during the first three or four weeks of the passage. I was prompt in my treatment of these cases and they got well, but before we arrived at Sydney I had about thirty others to treat.’

      The Lady Nugent arrived in Port Jackson on 9 April 1835 with 284 male prisoners. Two men had died at sea. The prisoners were landed on 27th April 1835 and marched to Hyde Park Barracks prior to being assigned. Ten were under the age of 14 years.

      The Lady Nugent:

      Lady Nugent


      Isaac’s distinguishing marks are noted on various criminal registers and record books:

      “Height in feet & inches: 5 4; Complexion: Ruddy; Hair: Light brown; Eyes: Hazel; Marks or Scars: Yes [including] DEVIL on lower left arm, TSIS back of left hand, WS lower right arm, MHDW back of right hand.”

      Another includes more detail about Isaac’s tattoos:

      “Two slight scars right side of mouth, 2 moles above right breast, figure of the devil and DEVIL and raised mole, lower left arm; anchor, seven dots half moon, TSIS and cross, back of left hand; a mallet, door post, A, mans bust, sun, WS, lower right arm; woman, MHDW and shut knife, back of right hand.”


      Lady Nugent record book


      From How tattoos became fashionable in Victorian England (2019 article in TheConversation by Robert Shoemaker and Zoe Alkar):

      “Historical tattooing was not restricted to sailors, soldiers and convicts, but was a growing and accepted phenomenon in Victorian England. Tattoos provide an important window into the lives of those who typically left no written records of their own. As a form of “history from below”, they give us a fleeting but intriguing understanding of the identities and emotions of ordinary people in the past.
      As a practice for which typically the only record is the body itself, few systematic records survive before the advent of photography. One exception to this is the written descriptions of tattoos (and even the occasional sketch) that were kept of institutionalised people forced to submit to the recording of information about their bodies as a means of identifying them. This particularly applies to three groups – criminal convicts, soldiers and sailors. Of these, the convict records are the most voluminous and systematic.
      Such records were first kept in large numbers for those who were transported to Australia from 1788 (since Australia was then an open prison) as the authorities needed some means of keeping track of them.”

      On the 1837 census Isaac was working for the government at Illiwarra, New South Wales. This record states that he arrived on the Lady Nugent in 1835. There are three other indent records for an Isaac Stokes in the following years, but the transcriptions don’t provide enough information to determine which Isaac Stokes it was. In April 1837 there was an abscondment, and an arrest/apprehension in May of that year, and in 1843 there was a record of convict indulgences.

      From the Australian government website regarding “convict indulgences”:

      “By the mid-1830s only six per cent of convicts were locked up. The vast majority worked for the government or free settlers and, with good behaviour, could earn a ticket of leave, conditional pardon or and even an absolute pardon. While under such orders convicts could earn their own living.”


      In 1856 in Camden, NSW, Isaac Stokes married Catherine Daly. With no further information on this record it would be impossible to know for sure if this was the right Isaac Stokes. This couple had six children, all in the Camden area, but none of the records provided enough information. No occupation or place or date of birth recorded for Isaac Stokes.

      I wrote to the National Library of Australia about the marriage record, and their reply was a surprise! Issac and Catherine were married on 30 September 1856, at the house of the Rev. Charles William Rigg, a Methodist minister, and it was recorded that Isaac was born in Edinburgh in 1821, to parents James Stokes and Sarah Ellis!  The age at the time of the marriage doesn’t match Isaac’s age at death in 1877, and clearly the place of birth and parents didn’t match either. Only his fathers occupation of stone mason was correct.  I wrote back to the helpful people at the library and they replied that the register was in a very poor condition and that only two and a half entries had survived at all, and that Isaac and Catherines marriage was recorded over two pages.

      I searched for an Isaac Stokes born in 1821 in Edinburgh on the Scotland government website (and on all the other genealogy records sites) and didn’t find it. In fact Stokes was a very uncommon name in Scotland at the time. I also searched Australian immigration and other records for another Isaac Stokes born in Scotland or born in 1821, and found nothing.  I was unable to find a single record to corroborate this mysterious other Isaac Stokes.

      As the age at death in 1877 was correct, I assume that either Isaac was lying, or that some mistake was made either on the register at the home of the Methodist minster, or a subsequent mistranscription or muddle on the remnants of the surviving register.  Therefore I remain convinced that the Camden stonemason Isaac Stokes was indeed our Isaac from Oxfordshire.


      I found a history society newsletter article that mentioned Isaac Stokes, stone mason, had built the Glenmore church, near Camden, in 1859.

      Glenmore Church


      From the Wollondilly museum April 2020 newsletter:

      Glenmore Church Stokes


      From the Camden History website:

      “The stone set over the porch of Glenmore Church gives the date of 1860. The church was begun in 1859 on land given by Joseph Moore. James Rogers of Picton was given the contract to build and local builder, Mr. Stokes, carried out the work. Elizabeth Moore, wife of Edward, laid the foundation stone. The first service was held on 19th March 1860. The cemetery alongside the church contains the headstones and memorials of the areas early pioneers.”


      Isaac died on the 3rd September 1877. The inquest report puts his place of death as Bagdelly, near to Camden, and another death register has put Cambelltown, also very close to Camden.  His age was recorded as 71 and the inquest report states his cause of death was “rupture of one of the large pulmonary vessels of the lung”.  His wife Catherine died in childbirth in 1870 at the age of 43.


      Isaac and Catherine’s children:

      William Stokes 1857-1928

      Catherine Stokes 1859-1846

      Sarah Josephine Stokes 1861-1931

      Ellen Stokes 1863-1932

      Rosanna Stokes 1865-1919

      Louisa Stokes 1868-1844.


      It’s possible that Catherine Daly was a transported convict from Ireland.


      Some time later I unexpectedly received a follow up email from The Oaks Heritage Centre in Australia.

      “The Gaudry papers which we have in our archive record him (Isaac Stokes) as having built: the church, the school and the teachers residence.  Isaac is recorded in the General return of convicts: 1837 and in Grevilles Post Office directory 1872 as a mason in Glenmore.”

      Isaac Stokes directory


        Annie Elizabeth Stokes


        “Grandma E”

        Annie Stokes


        Annie, my great grandmother, was born 2 Jan 1871 in Merstow Green, Evesham, Worcestershire.  Her father Fred Stokes was a wheelwright.  On  the 1771 census in Merston Green Annie was 3 months old and there was quite a houseful: Annies parents Fred and Rebecca, Fred’s parents Thomas and Eliza and two of their daughters, three apprentices, a lodger and one of Thomas’s grandsons.

        1771 census Merstow Green, Evesham:

        1771 census


        Annie at school in the early 1870s in Broadway. Annie is in the front on the left and her brother Fred is in the centre of the first seated row:

        Annie 1870s Broadway


        In 1881 Annie was a 10 year old visitor at the Angel Inn, Chipping Camden. A boarder there was 19 year old William Halford, a wheelwright apprentice.  John Such, a 62 year old widower, was the innkeeper. Her parents and two siblings were living at La Quinta, on Main Street in Broadway.

        According to her obituary in 1962, “When the Maxton family visited Broadway to stay with Mr and Madame de Navarro at Court Farm, they offered Annie a family post with them which took her for several years to Paris and other parts of the continent.”

        Mary Anderson was an American theatre actress. In 1890 she married Antonio Fernando de Navarro. She became known as Mary Anderson de Navarro. They settled at Court Farm in the Cotswolds, Broadway, Worcestershire, where she cultivated an interest in music and became a noted hostess with a distinguished circle of musical, literary and ecclesiastical guests. As in the years when Mary lived there, it was often filled with visiting artists and musicians, including Myra Hess and a young Jacqueline du Pré. (via Wikipedia)

        Court Farm, Broadway:

        Court Farm Broadway



        Annie was an assistant to a tobacconist in West Bromwich in 1991, living as a boarder with William Calcutt and family.  He future husband Albert was living in neighbouring Tipton in 1891, working at a pawnbroker apprenticeship.

        Annie married Albert Parker Edwards in 1898 in Evesham. On the 1901 census, she was in hospital in Redditch.

        By 1911, Anne and Albert had five children and were living at the Cricketers Arms in Redditch.

        cricketers arms


        Behind the bar in 1904 shortly after taking over at the Cricketers Arms. From a book on Redditch pubs:



        Annie was referred to in later years as Grandma E, probably to differentiate between her and my fathers Grandma T, as both lived to a great age.

        Annie with her grandson Reg on the left and her daughter in law Peggy on the right, in the early 1950s:

        1950 Annie


        Annie at my christening in 1959:

        1959 christening


        Annie died 30 Dec 1961, aged 90, at Ravenscourt nursing home, Redditch. Her obituary in the Droitwich Guardian in January 1962:

        Annie obit

        Note that this obituary contains an obvious error: Annie’s father was Frederick Stokes, and Thomas was his father.


          “Ever get the feeling you’re talking to yourself?” Liz said to herself.

          “YOU TART!!!”

          Liz swung round, wondering where the dreadful shreik came from. The little black communication device on her desk was vibrating madly, causing the tea in her cup to slosh over the side into the saucer.

          “Good Godfrey!” exclaimed Liz, visibly shaken.

          “You rang?” smiled Godfrey, crawling out from under the desk.

          “You were under my desk the whole time?” Liz was shocked.

          “Allo allo allo!”

          Roberto! You were under my desk the entire time too?”

          “Zere iz a zecret door under ze desk, madame, you did not know zis?”

          Fanella!  Good lord, not you as well!”

          Fanella grinned sheepishly. “I ‘ave come to ‘elp Finnley wiz ze bedding.”

          Liz bent down and peered under her desk. Who else was under there? But it was dark as a black hole, and covered in cobwebs.

          Fanella, do you know where Finnley is?” asked Liz.  “I miss her terribly. Everything is so dreadfully dusty without her.”

          Fanella shrugged.  “She was drugged, Madame.  It was when she tried to put a bug under the rug, someone ‘hit ‘er on ze ‘ead wiz a mug, and lugged her to a zecret location and filled her wiz drugs.” Fanella shrugged again. “Zis is why I ‘ave come to ‘elp.”


            From Tanganyika with Love

            continued part 9

            With thanks to Mike Rushby.

            Lyamungu 3rd January 1945

            Dearest Family.

            We had a novel Christmas this year. We decided to avoid the expense of
            entertaining and being entertained at Lyamungu, and went off to spend Christmas
            camping in a forest on the Western slopes of Kilimanjaro. George decided to combine
            business with pleasure and in this way we were able to use Government transport.
            We set out the day before Christmas day and drove along the road which skirts
            the slopes of Kilimanjaro and first visited a beautiful farm where Philip Teare, the ex
            Game Warden, and his wife Mary are staying. We had afternoon tea with them and then
            drove on in to the natural forest above the estate and pitched our tent beside a small
            clear mountain stream. We decorated the tent with paper streamers and a few small
            balloons and John found a small tree of the traditional shape which we decorated where
            it stood with tinsel and small ornaments.

            We put our beer, cool drinks for the children and bottles of fresh milk from Simba
            Estate, in the stream and on Christmas morning they were as cold as if they had been in
            the refrigerator all night. There were not many presents for the children, there never are,
            but they do not seem to mind and are well satisfied with a couple of balloons apiece,
            sweets, tin whistles and a book each.

            George entertain the children before breakfast. He can make a magical thing out
            of the most ordinary balloon. The children watched entranced as he drew on his pipe
            and then blew the smoke into the balloon. He then pinched the neck of the balloon
            between thumb and forefinger and released the smoke in little puffs. Occasionally the
            balloon ejected a perfect smoke ring and the forest rang with shouts of “Do it again
            Daddy.” Another trick was to blow up the balloon to maximum size and then twist the
            neck tightly before releasing. Before subsiding the balloon darted about in a crazy
            fashion causing great hilarity. Such fun, at the cost of a few pence.

            After breakfast George went off to fish for trout. John and Jim decided that they
            also wished to fish so we made rods out of sticks and string and bent pins and they
            fished happily, but of course quite unsuccessfully, for hours. Both of course fell into the
            stream and got soaked, but I was prepared for this, and the little stream was so shallow
            that they could not come to any harm. Henry played happily in the sand and I had a
            most peaceful morning.

            Hamisi roasted a chicken in a pot over the camp fire and the jelly set beautifully in the
            stream. So we had grilled trout and chicken for our Christmas dinner. I had of course
            taken an iced cake for the occasion and, all in all, it was a very successful Christmas day.
            On Boxing day we drove down to the plains where George was to investigate a
            report of game poaching near the Ngassari Furrow. This is a very long ditch which has
            been dug by the Government for watering the Masai stock in the area. It is also used by
            game and we saw herds of zebra and wildebeest, and some Grant’s Gazelle and
            giraffe, all comparatively tame. At one point a small herd of zebra raced beside the lorry
            apparently enjoying the fun of a gallop. They were all sleek and fat and looked wild and
            beautiful in action.

            We camped a considerable distance from the water but this precaution did not
            save us from the mosquitoes which launched a vicious attack on us after sunset, so that
            we took to our beds unusually early. They were on the job again when we got up at
            sunrise so I was very glad when we were once more on our way home.

            “I like Christmas safari. Much nicer that silly old party,” said John. I agree but I think
            it is time that our children learned to play happily with others. There are no other young
            children at Lyamungu though there are two older boys and a girl who go to boarding
            school in Nairobi.

            On New Years Day two Army Officers from the military camp at Moshi, came for
            tea and to talk game hunting with George. I think they rather enjoy visiting a home and
            seeing children and pets around.


            Lyamungu 14 May 1945

            Dearest Family.

            So the war in Europe is over at last. It is such marvellous news that I can hardly
            believe it. To think that as soon as George can get leave we will go to England and
            bring Ann and George home with us to Tanganyika. When we know when this leave can
            be arranged we will want Kate to join us here as of course she must go with us to
            England to meet George’s family. She has become so much a part of your lives that I
            know it will be a wrench for you to give her up but I know that you will all be happy to
            think that soon our family will be reunited.

            The V.E. celebrations passed off quietly here. We all went to Moshi to see the
            Victory Parade of the King’s African Rifles and in the evening we went to a celebration
            dinner at the Game Warden’s house. Besides ourselves the Moores had invited the
            Commanding Officer from Moshi and a junior officer. We had a very good dinner and
            many toasts including one to Mrs Moore’s brother, Oliver Milton who is fighting in Burma
            and has recently been awarded the Military Cross.

            There was also a celebration party for the children in the grounds of the Moshi
            Club. Such a spread! I think John and Jim sampled everything. We mothers were
            having our tea separately and a friend laughingly told me to turn around and have a look.
            I did, and saw the long tea tables now deserted by all the children but my two sons who
            were still eating steadily, and finding the party more exciting than the game of Musical
            Bumps into which all the other children had entered with enthusiasm.

            There was also an extremely good puppet show put on by the Italian prisoners
            of war from the camp at Moshi. They had made all the puppets which included well
            loved characters like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Babes in the Wood as
            well as more sophisticated ones like an irritable pianist and a would be prima donna. The
            most popular puppets with the children were a native askari and his family – a very
            happy little scene. I have never before seen a puppet show and was as entranced as
            the children. It is amazing what clever manipulation and lighting can do. I believe that the
            Italians mean to take their puppets to Nairobi and am glad to think that there, they will
            have larger audiences to appreciate their art.

            George has just come in, and I paused in my writing to ask him for the hundredth
            time when he thinks we will get leave. He says I must be patient because it may be a
            year before our turn comes. Shipping will be disorganised for months to come and we
            cannot expect priority simply because we have been separated so long from our
            children. The same situation applies to scores of other Government Officials.
            I have decided to write the story of my childhood in South Africa and about our
            life together in Tanganyika up to the time Ann and George left the country. I know you
            will have told Kate these stories, but Ann and George were so very little when they left
            home that I fear that they cannot remember much.

            My Mother-in-law will have told them about their father but she can tell them little
            about me. I shall send them one chapter of my story each month in the hope that they
            may be interested and not feel that I am a stranger when at last we meet again.


            Lyamungu 19th September 1945

            Dearest Family.

            In a months time we will be saying good-bye to Lyamungu. George is to be
            transferred to Mbeya and I am delighted, not only as I look upon Mbeya as home, but
            because there is now a primary school there which John can attend. I feel he will make
            much better progress in his lessons when he realises that all children of his age attend
            school. At present he is putting up a strong resistance to learning to read and spell, but
            he writes very neatly, does his sums accurately and shows a real talent for drawing. If
            only he had the will to learn I feel he would do very well.

            Jim now just four, is too young for lessons but too intelligent to be interested in
            the ayah’s attempts at entertainment. Yes I’ve had to engage a native girl to look after
            Henry from 9 am to 12.30 when I supervise John’s Correspondence Course. She is
            clean and amiable, but like most African women she has no initiative at all when it comes
            to entertaining children. Most African men and youths are good at this.

            I don’t regret our stay at Lyamungu. It is a beautiful spot and the change to the
            cooler climate after the heat of Morogoro has been good for all the children. John is still
            tall for his age but not so thin as he was and much less pale. He is a handsome little lad
            with his large brown eyes in striking contrast to his fair hair. He is wary of strangers but
            very observant and quite uncanny in the way he sums up people. He seldom gets up
            to mischief but I have a feeling he eggs Jim on. Not that Jim needs egging.

            Jim has an absolute flair for mischief but it is all done in such an artless manner that
            it is not easy to punish him. He is a very sturdy child with a cap of almost black silky hair,
            eyes brown, like mine, and a large mouth which is quick to smile and show most beautiful
            white and even teeth. He is most popular with all the native servants and the Game
            Scouts. The servants call Jim, ‘Bwana Tembo’ (Mr Elephant) because of his sturdy

            Henry, now nearly two years old, is quite different from the other two in
            appearance. He is fair complexioned and fair haired like Ann and Kate, with large, black
            lashed, light grey eyes. He is a good child, not so merry as Jim was at his age, nor as
            shy as John was. He seldom cries, does not care to be cuddled and is independent and
            strong willed. The servants call Henry, ‘Bwana Ndizi’ (Mr Banana) because he has an
            inexhaustible appetite for this fruit. Fortunately they are very inexpensive here. We buy
            an entire bunch which hangs from a beam on the back verandah, and pluck off the
            bananas as they ripen. This way there is no waste and the fruit never gets bruised as it
            does in greengrocers shops in South Africa. Our three boys make a delightful and
            interesting trio and I do wish you could see them for yourselves.

            We are delighted with the really beautiful photograph of Kate. She is an
            extraordinarily pretty child and looks so happy and healthy and a great credit to you.
            Now that we will be living in Mbeya with a school on the doorstep I hope that we will
            soon be able to arrange for her return home.


            c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 30th October 1945

            Dearest Family.

            How nice to be able to write c/o Game Dept. Mbeya at the head of my letters.
            We arrived here safely after a rather tiresome journey and are installed in a tiny house on
            the edge of the township.

            We left Lyamungu early on the morning of the 22nd. Most of our goods had
            been packed on the big Ford lorry the previous evening, but there were the usual
            delays and farewells. Of our servants, only the cook, Hamisi, accompanied us to
            Mbeya. Japhet, Tovelo and the ayah had to be paid off and largesse handed out.
            Tovelo’s granny had come, bringing a gift of bananas, and she also brought her little
            granddaughter to present a bunch of flowers. The child’s little scolded behind is now
            completely healed. Gifts had to be found for them too.

            At last we were all aboard and what a squash it was! Our few pieces of furniture
            and packing cases and trunks, the cook, his wife, the driver and the turney boy, who
            were to take the truck back to Lyamungu, and all their bits and pieces, bunches of
            bananas and Fanny the dog were all crammed into the body of the lorry. George, the
            children and I were jammed together in the cab. Before we left George looked
            dubiously at the tyres which were very worn and said gloomily that he thought it most
            unlikely that we would make our destination, Dodoma.

            Too true! Shortly after midday, near Kwakachinja, we blew a back tyre and there
            was a tedious delay in the heat whilst the wheel was changed. We were now without a
            spare tyre and George said that he would not risk taking the Ford further than Babati,
            which is less than half way to Dodoma. He drove very slowly and cautiously to Babati
            where he arranged with Sher Mohammed, an Indian trader, for a lorry to take us to
            Dodoma the next morning.

            It had been our intention to spend the night at the furnished Government
            Resthouse at Babati but when we got there we found that it was already occupied by
            several District Officers who had assembled for a conference. So, feeling rather
            disgruntled, we all piled back into the lorry and drove on to a place called Bereku where
            we spent an uncomfortable night in a tumbledown hut.

            Before dawn next morning Sher Mohammed’s lorry drove up, and there was a
            scramble to dress by the light of a storm lamp. The lorry was a very dilapidated one and
            there was already a native woman passenger in the cab. I felt so tired after an almost
            sleepless night that I decided to sit between the driver and this woman with the sleeping
            Henry on my knee. It was as well I did, because I soon found myself dosing off and
            drooping over towards the woman. Had she not been there I might easily have fallen
            out as the battered cab had no door. However I was alert enough when daylight came
            and changed places with the woman to our mutual relief. She was now able to converse
            with the African driver and I was able to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air!
            George, John and Jim were less comfortable. They sat in the lorry behind the
            cab hemmed in by packing cases. As the lorry was an open one the sun beat down
            unmercifully upon them until George, ever resourceful, moved a table to the front of the
            truck. The two boys crouched under this and so got shelter from the sun but they still had
            to endure the dust. Fanny complicated things by getting car sick and with one thing and
            another we were all jolly glad to get to Dodoma.

            We spent the night at the Dodoma Hotel and after hot baths, a good meal and a
            good nights rest we cheerfully boarded a bus of the Tanganyika Bus Service next
            morning to continue our journey to Mbeya. The rest of the journey was uneventful. We slept two nights on the road, the first at Iringa Hotel and the second at Chimala. We
            reached Mbeya on the 27th.

            I was rather taken aback when I first saw the little house which has been allocated
            to us. I had become accustomed to the spacious houses we had in Morogoro and
            Lyamungu. However though the house is tiny it is secluded and has a long garden
            sloping down to the road in front and another long strip sloping up behind. The front
            garden is shaded by several large cypress and eucalyptus trees but the garden behind
            the house has no shade and consists mainly of humpy beds planted with hundreds of
            carnations sadly in need of debudding. I believe that the previous Game Ranger’s wife
            cultivated the carnations and, by selling them, raised money for War Funds.
            Like our own first home, this little house is built of sun dried brick. Its original
            owners were Germans. It is now rented to the Government by the Custodian of Enemy
            Property, and George has his office in another ex German house.

            This afternoon we drove to the school to arrange about enrolling John there. The
            school is about four miles out of town. It was built by the German settlers in the late
            1930’s and they were justifiably proud of it. It consists of a great assembly hall and
            classrooms in one block and there are several attractive single storied dormitories. This
            school was taken over by the Government when the Germans were interned on the
            outbreak of war and many improvements have been made to the original buildings. The
            school certainly looks very attractive now with its grassed playing fields and its lawns and
            bright flower beds.

            The Union Jack flies from a tall flagpole in front of the Hall and all traces of the
            schools German origin have been firmly erased. We met the Headmaster, Mr
            Wallington, and his wife and some members of the staff. The school is co-educational
            and caters for children from the age of seven to standard six. The leaving age is elastic
            owing to the fact that many Tanganyika children started school very late because of lack
            of educational facilities in this country.

            The married members of the staff have their own cottages in the grounds. The
            Matrons have quarters attached to the dormitories for which they are responsible. I felt
            most enthusiastic about the school until I discovered that the Headmaster is adamant
            upon one subject. He utterly refuses to take any day pupils at the school. So now our
            poor reserved Johnny will have to adjust himself to boarding school life.
            We have arranged that he will start school on November 5th and I shall be very
            busy trying to assemble his school uniform at short notice. The clothing list is sensible.
            Boys wear khaki shirts and shorts on weekdays with knitted scarlet jerseys when the
            weather is cold. On Sundays they wear grey flannel shorts and blazers with the silver
            and scarlet school tie.

            Mbeya looks dusty, brown and dry after the lush evergreen vegetation of
            Lyamungu, but I prefer this drier climate and there are still mountains to please the eye.
            In fact the lower slopes of Lolesa Mountain rise at the upper end of our garden.


            c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 21st November 1945

            Dearest Family.

            We’re quite settled in now and I have got the little house fixed up to my
            satisfaction. I have engaged a rather uncouth looking houseboy but he is strong and
            capable and now that I am not tied down in the mornings by John’s lessons I am able to
            go out occasionally in the mornings and take Jim and Henry to play with other children.
            They do not show any great enthusiasm but are not shy by nature as John is.
            I have had a good deal of heartache over putting John to boarding school. It
            would have been different had he been used to the company of children outside his
            own family, or if he had even known one child there. However he seems to be adjusting
            himself to the life, though slowly. At least he looks well and tidy and I am quite sure that
            he is well looked after.

            I must confess that when the time came for John to go to school I simply did not
            have the courage to take him and he went alone with George, looking so smart in his
            new uniform – but his little face so bleak. The next day, Sunday, was visiting day but the
            Headmaster suggested that we should give John time to settle down and not visit him
            until Wednesday.

            When we drove up to the school I spied John on the far side of the field walking
            all alone. Instead of running up with glad greetings, as I had expected, he came almost
            reluctently and had little to say. I asked him to show me his dormitory and classroom and
            he did so politely as though I were a stranger. At last he volunteered some information.
            “Mummy,” he said in an awed voice, Do you know on the night I came here they burnt a
            man! They had a big fire and they burnt him.” After a blank moment the penny dropped.
            Of course John had started school and November the fifth but it had never entered my
            head to tell him about that infamous character, Guy Fawkes!

            I asked John’s Matron how he had settled down. “Well”, she said thoughtfully,
            John is very good and has not cried as many of the juniors do when they first come
            here, but he seems to keep to himself all the time.” I went home very discouraged but
            on the Sunday John came running up with another lad of about his own age.” This is my
            friend Marks,” he announced proudly. I could have hugged Marks.

            Mbeya is very different from the small settlement we knew in the early 1930’s.
            Gone are all the colourful characters from the Lupa diggings for the alluvial claims are all
            worked out now, gone also are our old friends the Menzies from the Pub and also most
            of the Government Officials we used to know. Mbeya has lost its character of a frontier
            township and has become almost suburban.

            The social life revolves around two places, the Club and the school. The Club
            which started out as a little two roomed building, has been expanded and the golf
            course improved. There are also tennis courts and a good library considering the size of
            the community. There are frequent parties and dances, though most of the club revenue
            comes from Bar profits. The parties are relatively sober affairs compared with the parties
            of the 1930’s.

            The school provides entertainment of another kind. Both Mr and Mrs Wallington
            are good amateur actors and I am told that they run an Amateur Dramatic Society. Every
            Wednesday afternoon there is a hockey match at the school. Mbeya town versus a
            mixed team of staff and scholars. The match attracts almost the whole European
            population of Mbeya. Some go to play hockey, others to watch, and others to snatch
            the opportunity to visit their children. I shall have to try to arrange a lift to school when
            George is away on safari.

            I have now met most of the local women and gladly renewed an old friendship
            with Sheilagh Waring whom I knew two years ago at Morogoro. Sheilagh and I have
            much in common, the same disregard for the trappings of civilisation, the same sense of
            the ludicrous, and children. She has eight to our six and she has also been cut off by the
            war from two of her children. Sheilagh looks too young and pretty to be the mother of so
            large a family and is, in fact, several years younger than I am. her husband, Donald, is a
            large quiet man who, as far as I can judge takes life seriously.

            Our next door neighbours are the Bank Manager and his wife, a very pleasant
            couple though we seldom meet. I have however had correspondence with the Bank
            Manager. Early on Saturday afternoon their houseboy brought a note. It informed me
            that my son was disturbing his rest by precipitating a heart attack. Was I aware that my
            son was about 30 feet up in a tree and balanced on a twig? I ran out and,sure enough,
            there was Jim, right at the top of the tallest eucalyptus tree. It would be the one with the
            mound of stones at the bottom! You should have heard me fluting in my most
            wheedling voice. “Sweets, Jimmy, come down slowly dear, I’ve some nice sweets for

            I’ll bet that little story makes you smile. I remember how often you have told me
            how, as a child, I used to make your hearts turn over because I had no fear of heights
            and how I used to say, “But that is silly, I won’t fall.” I know now only too well, how you
            must have felt.


            c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 14th January 1946

            Dearest Family.

            I hope that by now you have my telegram to say that Kate got home safely
            yesterday. It was wonderful to have her back and what a beautiful child she is! Kate
            seems to have enjoyed the train journey with Miss Craig, in spite of the tears she tells
            me she shed when she said good-bye to you. She also seems to have felt quite at
            home with the Hopleys at Salisbury. She flew from Salisbury in a small Dove aircraft
            and they had a smooth passage though Kate was a little airsick.

            I was so excited about her home coming! This house is so tiny that I had to turn
            out the little store room to make a bedroom for her. With a fresh coat of whitewash and
            pretty sprigged curtains and matching bedspread, borrowed from Sheilagh Waring, the
            tiny room looks most attractive. I had also iced a cake, made ice-cream and jelly and
            bought crackers for the table so that Kate’s home coming tea could be a proper little

            I was pleased with my preparations and then, a few hours before the plane was
            due, my crowned front tooth dropped out, peg and all! When my houseboy wants to
            describe something very tatty, he calls it “Second-hand Kabisa.” Kabisa meaning
            absolutely. That is an apt description of how I looked and felt. I decided to try some
            emergency dentistry. I think you know our nearest dentist is at Dar es Salaam five
            hundred miles away.

            First I carefully dried the tooth and with a match stick covered the peg and base
            with Durofix. I then took the infants rubber bulb enema, sucked up some heat from a
            candle flame and pumped it into the cavity before filling that with Durofix. Then hopefully
            I stuck the tooth in its former position and held it in place for several minutes. No good. I
            sent the houseboy to a shop for Scotine and tried the whole process again. No good

            When George came home for lunch I appealed to him for advice. He jokingly
            suggested that a maize seed jammed into the space would probably work, but when
            he saw that I really was upset he produced some chewing gum and suggested that I
            should try that . I did and that worked long enough for my first smile anyway.
            George and the three boys went to meet Kate but I remained at home to
            welcome her there. I was afraid that after all this time away Kate might be reluctant to
            rejoin the family but she threw her arms around me and said “Oh Mummy,” We both
            shed a few tears and then we both felt fine.

            How gay Kate is, and what an infectious laugh she has! The boys follow her
            around in admiration. John in fact asked me, “Is Kate a Princess?” When I said
            “Goodness no, Johnny, she’s your sister,” he explained himself by saying, “Well, she
            has such golden hair.” Kate was less complementary. When I tucked her in bed last night
            she said, “Mummy, I didn’t expect my little brothers to be so yellow!” All three boys
            have been taking a course of Atebrin, an anti-malarial drug which tinges skin and eyeballs

            So now our tiny house is bursting at its seams and how good it feels to have one
            more child under our roof. We are booked to sail for England in May and when we return
            we will have Ann and George home too. Then I shall feel really content.


            c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 2nd March 1946

            Dearest Family.

            My life just now is uneventful but very busy. I am sewing hard and knitting fast to
            try to get together some warm clothes for our leave in England. This is not a simple
            matter because woollen materials are in short supply and very expensive, and now that
            we have boarding school fees to pay for both Kate and John we have to budget very
            carefully indeed.

            Kate seems happy at school. She makes friends easily and seems to enjoy
            communal life. John also seems reconciled to school now that Kate is there. He no
            longer feels that he is the only exile in the family. He seems to rub along with the other
            boys of his age and has a couple of close friends. Although Mbeya School is coeducational
            the smaller boys and girls keep strictly apart. It is considered extremely
            cissy to play with girls.

            The local children are allowed to go home on Sundays after church and may bring
            friends home with them for the day. Both John and Kate do this and Sunday is a very
            busy day for me. The children come home in their Sunday best but bring play clothes to
            change into. There is always a scramble to get them to bath and change again in time to
            deliver them to the school by 6 o’clock.

            When George is home we go out to the school for the morning service. This is
            taken by the Headmaster Mr Wallington, and is very enjoyable. There is an excellent
            school choir to lead the singing. The service is the Church of England one, but is
            attended by children of all denominations, except the Roman Catholics. I don’t think that
            more than half the children are British. A large proportion are Greeks, some as old as
            sixteen, and about the same number are Afrikaners. There are Poles and non-Nazi
            Germans, Swiss and a few American children.

            All instruction is through the medium of English and it is amazing how soon all the
            foreign children learn to chatter in English. George has been told that we will return to
            Mbeya after our leave and for that I am very thankful as it means that we will still be living
            near at hand when Jim and Henry start school. Because many of these children have to
            travel many hundreds of miles to come to school, – Mbeya is a two day journey from the
            railhead, – the school year is divided into two instead of the usual three terms. This
            means that many of these children do not see their parents for months at a time. I think
            this is a very sad state of affairs especially for the seven and eight year olds but the
            Matrons assure me , that many children who live on isolated farms and stations are quite
            reluctant to go home because they miss the companionship and the games and
            entertainment that the school offers.

            My only complaint about the life here is that I see far too little of George. He is
            kept extremely busy on this range and is hardly at home except for a few days at the
            months end when he has to be at his office to check up on the pay vouchers and the
            issue of ammunition to the Scouts. George’s Range takes in the whole of the Southern
            Province and the Southern half of the Western Province and extends to the border with
            Northern Rhodesia and right across to Lake Tanganyika. This vast area is patrolled by
            only 40 Game Scouts because the Department is at present badly under staffed, due
            partly to the still acute shortage of rifles, but even more so to the extraordinary reluctance
            which the Government shows to allocate adequate funds for the efficient running of the

            The Game Scouts must see that the Game Laws are enforced, protect native
            crops from raiding elephant, hippo and other game animals. Report disease amongst game and deal with stock raiding lions. By constantly going on safari and checking on
            their work, George makes sure the range is run to his satisfaction. Most of the Game
            Scouts are fine fellows but, considering they receive only meagre pay for dangerous
            and exacting work, it is not surprising that occasionally a Scout is tempted into accepting
            a bribe not to report a serious infringement of the Game Laws and there is, of course,
            always the temptation to sell ivory illicitly to unscrupulous Indian and Arab traders.
            Apart from supervising the running of the Range, George has two major jobs.
            One is to supervise the running of the Game Free Area along the Rhodesia –
            Tanganyika border, and the other to hunt down the man-eating lions which for years have
            terrorised the Njombe District killing hundreds of Africans. Yes I know ‘hundreds’ sounds
            fantastic, but this is perfectly true and one day, when the job is done and the official
            report published I shall send it to you to prove it!

            I hate to think of the Game Free Area and so does George. All the game from
            buffalo to tiny duiker has been shot out in a wide belt extending nearly two hundred
            miles along the Northern Rhodesia -Tanganyika border. There are three Europeans in
            widely spaced camps who supervise this slaughter by African Game Guards. This
            horrible measure is considered necessary by the Veterinary Departments of
            Tanganyika, Rhodesia and South Africa, to prevent the cattle disease of Rinderpest
            from spreading South.

            When George is home however, we do relax and have fun. On the Saturday
            before the school term started we took Kate and the boys up to the top fishing camp in
            the Mporoto Mountains for her first attempt at trout fishing. There are three of these
            camps built by the Mbeya Trout Association on the rivers which were first stocked with
            the trout hatched on our farm at Mchewe. Of the three, the top camp is our favourite. The
            scenery there is most glorious and reminds me strongly of the rivers of the Western
            Cape which I so loved in my childhood.

            The river, the Kawira, flows from the Rungwe Mountain through a narrow valley
            with hills rising steeply on either side. The water runs swiftly over smooth stones and
            sometimes only a foot or two below the level of the banks. It is sparkling and shallow,
            but in places the water is deep and dark and the banks high. I had a busy day keeping
            an eye on the boys, especially Jim, who twice climbed out on branches which overhung
            deep water. “Mummy, I was only looking for trout!”

            How those kids enjoyed the freedom of the camp after the comparative
            restrictions of town. So did Fanny, she raced about on the hills like a mad dog chasing
            imaginary rabbits and having the time of her life. To escape the noise and commotion
            George had gone far upstream to fish and returned in the late afternoon with three good
            sized trout and four smaller ones. Kate proudly showed George the two she had caught
            with the assistance or our cook Hamisi. I fear they were caught in a rather unorthodox
            manner but this I kept a secret from George who is a stickler for the orthodox in trout


            Jacksdale England 24th June 1946

            Dearest Family.

            Here we are all together at last in England. You cannot imagine how wonderful it
            feels to have the whole Rushby family reunited. I find myself counting heads. Ann,
            George, Kate, John, Jim, and Henry. All present and well. We had a very pleasant trip
            on the old British India Ship Mantola. She was crowded with East Africans going home
            for the first time since the war, many like us, eagerly looking forward to a reunion with their
            children whom they had not seen for years. There was a great air of anticipation and
            good humour but a little anxiety too.

            “I do hope our children will be glad to see us,” said one, and went on to tell me
            about a Doctor from Dar es Salaam who, after years of separation from his son had
            recently gone to visit him at his school. The Doctor had alighted at the railway station
            where he had arranged to meet his son. A tall youth approached him and said, very
            politely, “Excuse me sir. Are you my Father?” Others told me of children who had
            become so attached to their relatives in England that they gave their parents a very cool
            reception. I began to feel apprehensive about Ann and George but fortunately had no
            time to mope.

            Oh, that washing and ironing for six! I shall remember for ever that steamy little
            laundry in the heat of the Red Sea and queuing up for the ironing and the feeling of guilt
            at the size of my bundle. We met many old friends amongst the passengers, and made
            some new ones, so the voyage was a pleasant one, We did however have our
            anxious moments.

            John was the first to disappear and we had an anxious search for him. He was
            quite surprised that we had been concerned. “I was just talking to my friend Chinky
            Chinaman in his workshop.” Could John have called him that? Then, when I returned to
            the cabin from dinner one night I found Henry swigging Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. He had
            drunk half the bottle neat and the label said ‘five drops in water’. Luckily it did not harm

            Jim of course was forever risking his neck. George had forbidden him to climb on
            the railings but he was forever doing things which no one had thought of forbidding him
            to do, like hanging from the overhead pipes on the deck or standing on the sill of a
            window and looking down at the well deck far below. An Officer found him doing this and
            gave me the scolding.

            Another day he climbed up on a derrick used for hoisting cargo. George,
            oblivious to this was sitting on the hatch cover with other passengers reading a book. I
            was in the wash house aft on the same deck when Kate rushed in and said, “Mummy
            come and see Jim.” Before I had time to more than gape, the butcher noticed Jim and
            rushed out knife in hand. “Get down from there”, he bellowed. Jim got, and with such
            speed that he caught the leg or his shorts on a projecting piece of metal. The cotton
            ripped across the seam from leg to leg and Jim stood there for a humiliating moment in a
            sort of revealing little kilt enduring the smiles of the passengers who had looked up from
            their books at the butcher’s shout.

            That incident cured Jim of his urge to climb on the ship but he managed to give
            us one more fright. He was lost off Dover. People from whom we enquired said, “Yes
            we saw your little boy. He was by the railings watching that big aircraft carrier.” Now Jim,
            though mischievous , is very obedient. It was not until George and I had conducted an
            exhaustive search above and below decks that I really became anxious. Could he have
            fallen overboard? Jim was returned to us by an unamused Officer. He had been found
            in one of the lifeboats on the deck forbidden to children.

            Our ship passed Dover after dark and it was an unforgettable sight. Dover Castle
            and the cliffs were floodlit for the Victory Celebrations. One of the men passengers sat
            down at the piano and played ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, and people sang and a few
            wept. The Mantola docked at Tilbury early next morning in a steady drizzle.
            There was a dockers strike on and it took literally hours for all the luggage to be
            put ashore. The ships stewards simply locked the public rooms and went off leaving the
            passengers shivering on the docks. Eventually damp and bedraggled, we arrived at St
            Pancras Station and were given a warm welcome by George’s sister Cath and her
            husband Reg Pears, who had come all the way from Nottingham to meet us.
            As we had to spend an hour in London before our train left for Nottingham,
            George suggested that Cath and I should take the children somewhere for a meal. So
            off we set in the cold drizzle, the boys and I without coats and laden with sundry
            packages, including a hand woven native basket full of shoes. We must have looked like
            a bunch of refugees as we stood in the hall of The Kings Cross Station Hotel because a
            supercilious waiter in tails looked us up and down and said, “I’m afraid not Madam”, in
            answer to my enquiry whether the hotel could provide lunch for six.
            Anyway who cares! We had lunch instead at an ABC tea room — horrible
            sausage and a mound or rather sloppy mashed potatoes, but very good ice-cream.
            After the train journey in a very grimy third class coach, through an incredibly green and
            beautiful countryside, we eventually reached Nottingham and took a bus to Jacksdale,
            where George’s mother and sisters live in large detached houses side by side.
            Ann and George were at the bus stop waiting for us, and thank God, submitted
            to my kiss as though we had been parted for weeks instead of eight years. Even now
            that we are together again my heart aches to think of all those missed years. They have
            not changed much and I would have picked them out of a crowd, but Ann, once thin and
            pale, is now very rosy and blooming. She still has her pretty soft plaits and her eyes are
            still a clear calm blue. Young George is very striking looking with sparkling brown eyes, a
            ready, slightly lopsided smile, and charming manners.

            Mother, and George’s elder sister, Lottie Giles, welcomed us at the door with the
            cheering news that our tea was ready. Ann showed us the way to mother’s lovely lilac
            tiled bathroom for a wash before tea. Before I had even turned the tap, Jim had hung
            form the glass towel rail and it lay in three pieces on the floor. There have since been
            similar tragedies. I can see that life in civilisation is not without snags.

            I am most grateful that Ann and George have accepted us so naturally and
            affectionately. Ann said candidly, “Mummy, it’s a good thing that you had Aunt Cath with
            you when you arrived because, honestly, I wouldn’t have known you.”


            Jacksdale England 28th August 1946

            Dearest Family.

            I am sorry that I have not written for some time but honestly, I don’t know whether
            I’m coming or going. Mother handed the top floor of her house to us and the
            arrangement was that I should tidy our rooms and do our laundry and Mother would
            prepare the meals except for breakfast. It looked easy at first. All the rooms have wall to
            wall carpeting and there was a large vacuum cleaner in the box room. I was told a
            window cleaner would do the windows.

            Well the first time I used the Hoover I nearly died of fright. I pressed the switch
            and immediately there was a roar and the bag filled with air to bursting point, or so I
            thought. I screamed for Ann and she came at the run. I pointed to the bag and shouted
            above the din, “What must I do? It’s going to burst!” Ann looked at me in astonishment
            and said, “But Mummy that’s the way it works.” I couldn’t have her thinking me a
            complete fool so I switched the current off and explained to Ann how it was that I had
            never seen this type of equipment in action. How, in Tanganyika , I had never had a
            house with electricity and that, anyway, electric equipment would be superfluous
            because floors are of cement which the houseboy polishes by hand, one only has a
            few rugs or grass mats on the floor. “But what about Granny’s house in South Africa?’”
            she asked, so I explained about your Josephine who threatened to leave if you
            bought a Hoover because that would mean that you did not think she kept the house
            clean. The sad fact remains that, at fourteen, Ann knows far more about housework than I
            do, or rather did! I’m learning fast.

            The older children all go to school at different times in the morning. Ann leaves first
            by bus to go to her Grammar School at Sutton-in-Ashfield. Shortly afterwards George
            catches a bus for Nottingham where he attends the High School. So they have
            breakfast in relays, usually scrambled egg made from a revolting dried egg mixture.
            Then there are beds to make and washing and ironing to do, so I have little time for
            sightseeing, though on a few afternoons George has looked after the younger children
            and I have gone on bus tours in Derbyshire. Life is difficult here with all the restrictions on
            foodstuffs. We all have ration books so get our fair share but meat, fats and eggs are
            scarce and expensive. The weather is very wet. At first I used to hang out the washing
            and then rush to bring it in when a shower came. Now I just let it hang.

            We have left our imprint upon my Mother-in-law’s house for ever. Henry upset a
            bottle of Milk of Magnesia in the middle of the pale fawn bedroom carpet. John, trying to
            be helpful and doing some dusting, broke one of the delicate Dresden china candlesticks
            which adorn our bedroom mantelpiece.Jim and Henry have wrecked the once
            professionally landscaped garden and all the boys together bored a large hole through
            Mother’s prized cherry tree. So now Mother has given up and gone off to Bournemouth
            for a much needed holiday. Once a week I have the capable help of a cleaning woman,
            called for some reason, ‘Mrs Two’, but I have now got all the cooking to do for eight. Mrs
            Two is a godsend. She wears, of all things, a print mob cap with a hole in it. Says it
            belonged to her Grandmother. Her price is far beyond Rubies to me, not so much
            because she does, in a couple of hours, what it takes me all day to do, but because she
            sells me boxes of fifty cigarettes. Some non-smoking relative, who works in Players
            tobacco factory, passes on his ration to her. Until Mrs Two came to my rescue I had
            been starved of cigarettes. Each time I asked for them at the shop the grocer would say,
            “Are you registered with us?” Only very rarely would some kindly soul sell me a little
            packet of five Woodbines.

            England is very beautiful but the sooner we go home to Tanganyika, the better.
            On this, George and I and the children agree.


            Jacksdale England 20th September 1946

            Dearest Family.

            Our return passages have now been booked on the Winchester Castle and we
            sail from Southampton on October the sixth. I look forward to returning to Tanganyika but
            hope to visit England again in a few years time when our children are older and when
            rationing is a thing of the past.

            I have grown fond of my Sisters-in-law and admire my Mother-in-law very much.
            She has a great sense of humour and has entertained me with stories of her very
            eventful life, and told me lots of little stories of the children which did not figure in her
            letters. One which amused me was about young George. During one of the air raids
            early in the war when the sirens were screaming and bombers roaring overhead Mother
            made the two children get into the cloak cupboard under the stairs. Young George
            seemed quite unconcerned about the planes and the bombs but soon an anxious voice
            asked in the dark, “Gran, what will I do if a spider falls on me?” I am afraid that Mother is
            going to miss Ann and George very much.

            I had a holiday last weekend when Lottie and I went up to London on a spree. It
            was a most enjoyable weekend, though very rushed. We placed ourselves in the
            hands of Thos. Cook and Sons and saw most of the sights of London and were run off
            our feet in the process. As you all know London I shall not describe what I saw but just
            to say that, best of all, I enjoyed walking along the Thames embankment in the evening
            and the changing of the Guard at Whitehall. On Sunday morning Lottie and I went to
            Kew Gardens and in the afternoon walked in Kensington Gardens.

            We went to only one show, ‘The Skin of our Teeth’ starring Vivienne Leigh.
            Neither of us enjoyed the performance at all and regretted having spent so much on
            circle seats. The show was far too highbrow for my taste, a sort of satire on the survival
            of the human race. Miss Leigh was unrecognisable in a blond wig and her voice strident.
            However the night was not a dead loss as far as entertainment was concerned as we
            were later caught up in a tragicomedy at our hotel.

            We had booked communicating rooms at the enormous Imperial Hotel in Russell
            Square. These rooms were comfortably furnished but very high up, and we had a rather
            terrifying and dreary view from the windows of the enclosed courtyard far below. We
            had some snacks and a chat in Lottie’s room and then I moved to mine and went to bed.
            I had noted earlier that there was a special lock on the outer door of my room so that
            when the door was closed from the inside it automatically locked itself.
            I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard a hammering which seemed to
            come from my wardrobe. I got up, rather fearfully, and opened the wardrobe door and
            noted for the first time that the wardrobe was set in an opening in the wall and that the
            back of the wardrobe also served as the back of the wardrobe in the room next door. I
            quickly shut it again and went to confer with Lottie.

            Suddenly a male voice was raised next door in supplication, “Mary Mother of
            God, Help me! They’ve locked me in!” and the hammering resumed again, sometimes
            on the door, and then again on the back of the wardrobe of the room next door. Lottie
            had by this time joined me and together we listened to the prayers and to the
            hammering. Then the voice began to threaten, “If you don’t let me out I’ll jump out of the
            window.” Great consternation on our side of the wall. I went out into the passage and
            called through the door, “You’re not locked in. Come to your door and I’ll tell you how to
            open it.” Silence for a moment and then again the prayers followed by a threat. All the
            other doors in the corridor remained shut.

            Luckily just then a young man and a woman came walking down the corridor and I
            explained the situation. The young man hurried off for the night porter who went into the
            next door room. In a matter of minutes there was peace next door. When the night
            porter came out into the corridor again I asked for an explanation. He said quite casually,
            “It’s all right Madam. He’s an Irish Gentleman in Show Business. He gets like this on a
            Saturday night when he has had a drop too much. He won’t give any more trouble
            now.” And he didn’t. Next morning at breakfast Lottie and I tried to spot the gentleman in
            the Show Business, but saw no one who looked like the owner of that charming Irish

            George had to go to London on business last Monday and took the older
            children with him for a few hours of sight seeing. They returned quite unimpressed.
            Everything was too old and dirty and there were far too many people about, but they
            had enjoyed riding on the escalators at the tube stations, and all agreed that the highlight
            of the trip was, “Dad took us to lunch at the Chicken Inn.”

            Now that it is almost time to leave England I am finding the housework less of a
            drudgery, Also, as it is school holiday time, Jim and Henry are able to go on walks with
            the older children and so use up some of their surplus energy. Cath and I took the
            children (except young George who went rabbit shooting with his uncle Reg, and
            Henry, who stayed at home with his dad) to the Wakes at Selston, the neighbouring
            village. There were the roundabouts and similar contraptions but the side shows had
            more appeal for the children. Ann and Kate found a stall where assorted prizes were
            spread out on a sloping table. Anyone who could land a penny squarely on one of
            these objects was given a similar one as a prize.

            I was touched to see that both girls ignored all the targets except a box of fifty
            cigarettes which they were determined to win for me. After numerous attempts, Kate
            landed her penny successfully and you would have loved to have seen her radiant little


            Dar es Salaam 22nd October 1946

            Dearest Family.

            Back in Tanganyika at last, but not together. We have to stay in Dar es Salaam
            until tomorrow when the train leaves for Dodoma. We arrived yesterday morning to find
            all the hotels filled with people waiting to board ships for England. Fortunately some
            friends came to the rescue and Ann, Kate and John have gone to stay with them. Jim,
            Henry and I are sleeping in a screened corner of the lounge of the New Africa Hotel, and
            George and young George have beds in the Palm Court of the same hotel.

            We travelled out from England in the Winchester Castle under troopship
            conditions. We joined her at Southampton after a rather slow train journey from
            Nottingham. We arrived after dark and from the station we could see a large ship in the
            docks with a floodlit red funnel. “Our ship,” yelled the children in delight, but it was not the
            Winchester Castle but the Queen Elizabeth, newly reconditioned.

            We had hoped to board our ship that evening but George made enquiries and
            found that we would not be allowed on board until noon next day. Without much hope,
            we went off to try to get accommodation for eight at a small hotel recommended by the
            taxi driver. Luckily for us there was a very motherly woman at the reception desk. She
            looked in amusement at the six children and said to me, “Goodness are all these yours,
            ducks? Then she called over her shoulder, “Wilf, come and see this lady with lots of
            children. We must try to help.” They settled the problem most satisfactorily by turning
            two rooms into a dormitory.

            In the morning we had time to inspect bomb damage in the dock area of
            Southampton. Most of the rubble had been cleared away but there are still numbers of
            damaged buildings awaiting demolition. A depressing sight. We saw the Queen Mary
            at anchor, still in her drab war time paint, but magnificent nevertheless.
            The Winchester Castle was crammed with passengers and many travelled in
            acute discomfort. We were luckier than most because the two girls, the three small boys
            and I had a stateroom to ourselves and though it was stripped of peacetime comforts,
            we had a private bathroom and toilet. The two Georges had bunks in a huge men-only
            dormitory somewhere in the bowls of the ship where they had to share communal troop
            ship facilities. The food was plentiful but unexciting and one had to queue for afternoon
            tea. During the day the decks were crowded and there was squatting room only. The
            many children on board got bored.

            Port Said provided a break and we were all entertained by the ‘Gully Gully’ man
            and his conjuring tricks, and though we had no money to spend at Simon Artz, we did at
            least have a chance to stretch our legs. Next day scores of passengers took ill with
            sever stomach upsets, whether from food poisoning, or as was rumoured, from bad
            water taken on at the Egyptian port, I don’t know. Only the two Georges in our family
            were affected and their attacks were comparatively mild.

            As we neared the Kenya port of Mombassa, the passengers for Dar es Salaam
            were told that they would have to disembark at Mombassa and continue their journey in
            a small coaster, the Al Said. The Winchester Castle is too big for the narrow channel
            which leads to Dar es Salaam harbour.

            From the wharf the Al Said looked beautiful. She was once the private yacht of
            the Sultan of Zanzibar and has lovely lines. Our admiration lasted only until we were
            shown our cabins. With one voice our children exclaimed, “Gosh they stink!” They did, of
            a mixture of rancid oil and sweat and stale urine. The beds were not yet made and the
            thin mattresses had ominous stains on them. John, ever fastidious, lifted his mattress and two enormous cockroaches scuttled for cover.

            We had a good homely lunch served by two smiling African stewards and
            afterwards we sat on deck and that was fine too, though behind ones enjoyment there
            was the thought of those stuffy and dirty cabins. That first night nearly everyone,
            including George and our older children, slept on deck. Women occupied deck chairs
            and men and children slept on the bare decks. Horrifying though the idea was, I decided
            that, as Jim had a bad cough, he, Henry and I would sleep in our cabin.

            When I announced my intention of sleeping in the cabin one of the passengers
            gave me some insecticide spray which I used lavishly, but without avail. The children
            slept but I sat up all night with the light on, determined to keep at least their pillows clear
            of the cockroaches which scurried about boldly regardless of the light. All the next day
            and night we avoided the cabins. The Al Said stopped for some hours at Zanzibar to
            offload her deck cargo of live cattle and packing cases from the hold. George and the
            elder children went ashore for a walk but I felt too lazy and there was plenty to watch
            from deck.

            That night I too occupied a deck chair and slept quite comfortably, and next
            morning we entered the palm fringed harbour of Dar es Salaam and were home.


            Mbeya 1st November 1946

            Dearest Family.

            Home at last! We are all most happily installed in a real family house about three
            miles out of Mbeya and near the school. This house belongs to an elderly German and
            has been taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property and leased to the

            The owner, whose name is Shenkel, was not interned but is allowed to occupy a
            smaller house on the Estate. I found him in the garden this morning lecturing the children
            on what they may do and may not do. I tried to make it quite clear to him that he was not
            our landlord, though he clearly thinks otherwise. After he had gone I had to take two
            aspirin and lie down to recover my composure! I had been warned that he has this effect
            on people.

            Mr Shenkel is a short and ugly man, his clothes are stained with food and he
            wears steel rimmed glasses tied round his head with a piece of dirty elastic because
            one earpiece is missing. He speaks with a thick German accent but his English is fluent
            and I believe he is a cultured and clever man. But he is maddening. The children were
            more amused than impressed by his exhortations and have happily Christened our
            home, ‘Old Shenks’.

            The house has very large grounds as the place is really a derelict farm. It suits us
            down to the ground. We had no sooner unpacked than George went off on safari after
            those maneating lions in the Njombe District. he accounted for one, and a further two
            jointly with a Game Scout, before we left for England. But none was shot during the five
            months we were away as George’s relief is quite inexperienced in such work. George
            thinks that there are still about a dozen maneaters at large. His theory is that a female
            maneater moved into the area in 1938 when maneating first started, and brought up her
            cubs to be maneaters, and those cubs in turn did the same. The three maneating lions
            that have been shot were all in very good condition and not old and maimed as
            maneaters usually are.

            George anticipates that it will be months before all these lions are accounted for
            because they are constantly on the move and cover a very large area. The lions have to
            be hunted on foot because they range over broken country covered by bush and fairly
            dense thicket.

            I did a bit of shooting myself yesterday and impressed our African servants and
            the children and myself. What a fluke! Our houseboy came to say that there was a snake
            in the garden, the biggest he had ever seen. He said it was too big to kill with a stick and
            would I shoot it. I had no gun but a heavy .450 Webley revolver and I took this and
            hurried out with the children at my heels.

            The snake turned out to be an unusually large puff adder which had just shed its
            skin. It looked beautiful in a repulsive way. So flanked by servants and children I took
            aim and shot, not hitting the head as I had planned, but breaking the snake’s back with
            the heavy bullet. The two native boys then rushed up with sticks and flattened the head.
            “Ma you’re a crack shot,” cried the kids in delighted surprise. I hope to rest on my laurels
            for a long, long while.

            Although there are only a few weeks of school term left the four older children will
            start school on Monday. Not only am I pleased with our new home here but also with
            the staff I have engaged. Our new houseboy, Reuben, (but renamed Robin by our
            children) is not only cheerful and willing but intelligent too, and Jumbe, the wood and
            garden boy, is a born clown and a source of great entertainment to the children.

            I feel sure that we are all going to be very happy here at ‘Old Shenks!.



              From Tanganyika with Love

              continued part 8

              With thanks to Mike Rushby.

              Morogoro 20th January 1941

              Dearest Family,

              It is all arranged for us to go on three months leave to Cape Town next month so
              get out your flags. How I shall love showing off Kate and John to you and this time
              George will be with us and you’ll be able to get to know him properly. You can’t think
              what a comfort it will be to leave all the worries of baggage and tipping to him. We will all
              be travelling by ship to Durban and from there to Cape Town by train. I rather dread the
              journey because there is a fifth little Rushby on the way and, as always, I am very

              Kate has become such a little companion to me that I dread the thought of leaving
              her behind with you to start schooling. I miss Ann and George so much now and must
              face separation from Kate as well. There does not seem to be any alternative though.
              There is a boarding school in Arusha and another has recently been started in Mbeya,
              but both places are so far away and I know she would be very unhappy as a boarder at
              this stage. Living happily with you and attending a day school might wean her of her
              dependance upon me. As soon as this wretched war ends we mean to get Ann and
              George back home and Kate too and they can then all go to boarding school together.
              If I were a more methodical person I would try to teach Kate myself, but being a
              muddler I will have my hands full with Johnny and the new baby. Life passes pleasantly
              but quietly here. Much of my time is taken up with entertaining the children and sewing
              for them and just waiting for George to come home.

              George works so hard on these safaris and this endless elephant hunting to
              protect native crops entails so much foot safari, that he has lost a good deal of weight. it
              is more than ten years since he had a holiday so he is greatly looking forward to this one.
              Four whole months together!

              I should like to keep the ayah, Janet, for the new baby, but she says she wants
              to return to her home in the Southern Highlands Province and take a job there. She is
              unusually efficient and so clean, and the houseboy and cook are quite scared of her. She
              bawls at them if the children’s meals are served a few minutes late but she is always
              respectful towards me and practically creeps around on tiptoe when George is home.
              She has a room next to the outside kitchen. One night thieves broke into the kitchen and
              stole a few things, also a canvas chair and mat from the verandah. Ayah heard them, and
              grabbing a bit of firewood, she gave chase. Her shouts so alarmed the thieves that they
              ran off up the hill jettisoning their loot as they ran. She is a great character.


              Morogoro 30th July 1941

              Dearest Family,

              Safely back in Morogoro after a rather grim voyage from Durban. Our ship was
              completely blacked out at night and we had to sleep with warm clothing and life belts
              handy and had so many tedious boat drills. It was a nuisance being held up for a whole
              month in Durban, because I was so very pregnant when we did embark. In fact George
              suggested that I had better hide in the ‘Ladies’ until the ship sailed for fear the Captain
              might refuse to take me. It seems that the ship, on which we were originally booked to
              travel, was torpedoed somewhere off the Cape.

              We have been given a very large house this tour with a mosquito netted
              sleeping porch which will be fine for the new baby. The only disadvantage is that the
              house is on the very edge of the residential part of Morogoro and Johnny will have to
              go quite a distance to find playmates.

              I still miss Kate terribly. She is a loving little person. I had prepared for a scene
              when we said good-bye but I never expected that she would be the comforter. It
              nearly broke my heart when she put her arms around me and said, “I’m so sorry
              Mummy, please don’t cry. I’ll be good. Please don’t cry.” I’m afraid it was all very
              harrowing for you also. It is a great comfort to hear that she has settled down so happily.
              I try not to think consciously of my absent children and remind myself that there are
              thousands of mothers in the same boat, but they are always there at the back of my

              Mother writes that Ann and George are perfectly happy and well, and that though
              German bombers do fly over fairly frequently, they are unlikely to drop their bombs on
              a small place like Jacksdale.

              George has already left on safari to the Rufiji. There was no replacement for his
              job while he was away so he is anxious to get things moving again. Johnny and I are
              going to move in with friends until he returns, just in case all the travelling around brings
              the new baby on earlier than expected.


              Morogoro 26th August 1941

              Dearest Family,

              Our new son, James Caleb. was born at 3.30 pm yesterday afternoon, with a
              minimum of fuss, in the hospital here. The Doctor was out so my friend, Sister Murray,
              delivered the baby. The Sister is a Scots girl, very efficient and calm and encouraging,
              and an ideal person to have around at such a time.

              Everything, this time, went without a hitch and I feel fine and proud of my
              bouncing son. He weighs nine pounds and ten ounces and is a big boned fellow with
              dark hair and unusually strongly marked eyebrows. His eyes are strong too and already
              seem to focus. George is delighted with him and brought Hugh Nelson to see him this
              morning. Hugh took one look, and, astonished I suppose by the baby’s apparent
              awareness, said, “Gosh, this one has been here before.” The baby’s cot is beside my
              bed so I can admire him as much as I please. He has large strong hands and George
              reckons he’ll make a good boxer some day.

              Another of my early visitors was Mabemba, George’s orderly. He is a very big
              African and looks impressive in his Game Scouts uniform. George met him years ago at
              Mahenge when he was a young elephant hunter and Mabemba was an Askari in the
              Police. Mabemba takes quite a proprietary interest in the family.


              Morogoro 25th December 1941

              Dearest Family,

              Christmas Day today, but not a gay one. I have Johnny in bed with a poisoned
              leg so he missed the children’s party at the Club. To make things a little festive I have
              put up a little Christmas tree in the children’s room and have hung up streamers and
              balloons above the beds. Johnny demands a lot of attention so it is fortunate that little
              James is such a very good baby. He sleeps all night until 6 am when his feed is due.
              One morning last week I got up as usual to feed him but I felt so dopey that I
              thought I’d better have a cold wash first. I went into the bathroom and had a hurried
              splash and then grabbed a towel to dry my face. Immediately I felt an agonising pain in
              my nose. Reason? There was a scorpion in the towel! In no time at all my nose looked
              like a pear and felt burning hot. The baby screamed with frustration whilst I feverishly
              bathed my nose and applied this and that in an effort to cool it.

              For three days my nose was very red and tender,”A real boozer nose”, said
              George. But now, thank goodness, it is back to normal.

              Some of the younger marrieds and a couple of bachelors came around,
              complete with portable harmonium, to sing carols in the early hours. No sooner had we
              settled down again to woo sleep when we were disturbed by shouts and screams from
              our nearest neighbour’s house. “Just celebrating Christmas”, grunted George, but we
              heard this morning that the neighbour had fallen down his verandah steps and broken his


              Morogoro Hospital 30th September 1943

              Dearest Family,

              Well now we are eight! Our new son, Henry, was born on the night of the 28th.
              He is a beautiful baby, weighing ten pounds three and a half ounces. This baby is very
              well developed, handsome, and rather superior looking, and not at all amusing to look at
              as the other boys were.George was born with a moustache, John had a large nose and
              looked like a little old man, and Jim, bless his heart, looked rather like a baby
              chimpanzee. Henry is different. One of my visitors said, “Heaven he’ll have to be a
              Bishop!” I expect the lawn sleeves of his nightie really gave her that idea, but the baby
              does look like ‘Someone’. He is very good and George, John, and Jim are delighted
              with him, so is Mabemba.

              We have a dear little nurse looking after us. She is very petite and childish
              looking. When the baby was born and she brought him for me to see, the nurse asked
              his name. I said jokingly, “His name is Benjamin – the last of the family.” She is now very
              peeved to discover that his real name is Henry William and persists in calling him
              ‘Benjie’.I am longing to get home and into my pleasant rut. I have been away for two
              whole weeks and George is managing so well that I shall feel quite expendable if I don’t
              get home soon. As our home is a couple of miles from the hospital, I arranged to move
              in and stay with the nursing sister on the day the baby was due. There I remained for ten
              whole days before the baby was born. Each afternoon George came and took me for a
              ride in the bumpy Bedford lorry and the Doctor tried this and that but the baby refused
              to be hurried.

              On the tenth day I had the offer of a lift and decided to go home for tea and
              surprise George. It was a surprise too, because George was entertaining a young
              Game Ranger for tea and my arrival, looking like a perambulating big top, must have
              been rather embarrassing.Henry was born at the exact moment that celebrations started
              in the Township for the end of the Muslim religious festival of Ramadan. As the Doctor
              held him up by his ankles, there was the sound of hooters and firecrackers from the town.
              The baby has a birthmark in the shape of a crescent moon above his left eyebrow.


              Morogoro 26th January 1944

              Dearest Family,

              We have just heard that we are to be transferred to the Headquarters of the
              Game Department at a place called Lyamungu in the Northern Province. George is not
              at all pleased because he feels that the new job will entail a good deal of office work and
              that his beloved but endless elephant hunting will be considerably curtailed. I am glad of
              that and I am looking forward to seeing a new part of Tanganyika and particularly
              Kilimanjaro which dominates Lyamungu.

              Thank goodness our menagerie is now much smaller. We found a home for the
              guinea pigs last December and Susie, our mischievous guinea-fowl, has flown off to find
              a mate.Last week I went down to Dar es Salaam for a check up by Doctor John, a
              woman doctor, leaving George to cope with the three boys. I was away two nights and
              a day and returned early in the morning just as George was giving Henry his six o’clock
              bottle. It always amazes me that so very masculine a man can do my chores with no
              effort and I have a horrible suspicion that he does them better than I do. I enjoyed the
              short break at the coast very much. I stayed with friends and we bathed in the warm sea
              and saw a good film.

              Now I suppose there will be a round of farewell parties. People in this country
              are most kind and hospitable.


              Lyamungu 20th March 1944

              Dearest Family,

              We left Morogoro after the round of farewell parties I had anticipated. The final
              one was at the Club on Saturday night. George made a most amusing speech and the
              party was a very pleasant occasion though I was rather tired after all the packing.
              Several friends gathered to wave us off on Monday morning. We had two lorries
              loaded with our goods. I rode in the cab of the first one with Henry on my knee. George
              with John and Jim rode in the second one. As there was no room for them in the cab,
              they sat on our couch which was placed across the width of the lorry behind the cab. This
              seat was not as comfortable as it sounds, because the space behind the couch was
              taken up with packing cases which were not lashed in place and these kept moving
              forward as the lorry bumped its way over the bad road.

              Soon there was hardly any leg room and George had constantly to stand up and
              push the second layer of packing cases back to prevent them from toppling over onto
              the children and himself. As it is now the rainy season the road was very muddy and
              treacherous and the lorries travelled so slowly it was dark by the time we reached
              Karogwe from where we were booked to take the train next morning to Moshi.
              Next morning we heard that there had been a washaway on the line and that the
              train would be delayed for at least twelve hours. I was not feeling well and certainly did
              not enjoy my day. Early in the afternoon Jimmy ran into a wall and blackened both his
              eyes. What a child! As the day wore on I felt worse and worse and when at last the train
              did arrive I simply crawled into my bunk whilst George coped nobly with the luggage
              and the children.

              We arrived at Moshi at breakfast time and went straight to the Lion Cub Hotel
              where I took to my bed with a high temperature. It was, of course, malaria. I always have
              my attacks at the most inopportune times. Fortunately George ran into some friends
              called Eccles and the wife Mollie came to my room and bathed Henry and prepared his
              bottle and fed him. George looked after John and Jim. Next day I felt much better and
              we drove out to Lyamungu the day after. There we had tea with the Game Warden and
              his wife before moving into our new home nearby.

              The Game Warden is Captain Monty Moore VC. He came out to Africa
              originally as an Officer in the King’s African Rifles and liked the country so much he left the
              Army and joined the Game Department. He was stationed at Banagi in the Serengetti
              Game Reserve and is well known for his work with the lions there. He particularly tamed
              some of the lions by feeding them so that they would come out into the open and could
              readily be photographed by tourists. His wife Audrey, has written a book about their
              experiences at Banagi. It is called “Serengetti”

              Our cook, Hamisi, soon had a meal ready for us and we all went to bed early.
              This is a very pleasant house and I know we will be happy here. I still feel a little shaky
              but that is the result of all the quinine I have taken. I expect I shall feel fine in a day or two.


              Lyamungu 15th May 1944

              Dearest Family,

              Well, here we are settled comfortably in our very nice house. The house is
              modern and roomy, and there is a large enclosed verandah, which will be a Godsend in
              the wet weather as a playroom for the children. The only drawback is that there are so
              many windows to be curtained and cleaned. The grounds consist of a very large lawn
              and a few beds of roses and shrubs. It is an ideal garden for children, unlike our steeply
              terraced garden at Morogoro.

              Lyamungu is really the Government Coffee Research Station. It is about sixteen
              miles from the town of Moshi which is the centre of the Tanganyika coffee growing
              industry. Lyamungu, which means ‘place of God’ is in the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro and
              we have a beautiful view of Kilimanjaro. Kibo, the more spectacular of the two mountain
              peaks, towers above us, looking from this angle, like a giant frosted plum pudding. Often the mountain is veiled by cloud and mist which sometimes comes down to
              our level so that visibility is practically nil. George dislikes both mist and mountain but I
              like both and so does John. He in fact saw Kibo before I did. On our first day here, the
              peak was completely hidden by cloud. In the late afternoon when the children were
              playing on the lawn outside I was indoors hanging curtains. I heard John call out, “Oh
              Mummy, isn’t it beautiful!” I ran outside and there, above a scarf of cloud, I saw the
              showy dome of Kibo with the setting sun shining on it tingeing the snow pink. It was an
              unforgettable experience.

              As this is the rainy season, the surrounding country side is very lush and green.
              Everywhere one sees the rich green of the coffee plantations and the lighter green of
              the banana groves. Unfortunately our walks are rather circumscribed. Except for the main road to Moshi, there is nowhere to walk except through the Government coffee
              plantation. Paddy, our dog, thinks life is pretty boring as there is no bush here and
              nothing to hunt. There are only half a dozen European families here and half of those are
              on very distant terms with the other half which makes the station a rather uncomfortable

              The coffee expert who runs this station is annoyed because his European staff
              has been cut down owing to the war, and three of the vacant houses and some office
              buildings have been taken over temporarily by the Game Department. Another house
              has been taken over by the head of the Labour Department. However I don’t suppose
              the ill feeling will effect us much. We are so used to living in the bush that we are not
              socially inclined any way.

              Our cook, Hamisi, came with us from Morogoro but I had to engage a new
              houseboy and kitchenboy. I first engaged a houseboy who produced a wonderful ‘chit’
              in which his previous employer describes him as his “friend and confidant”. I felt rather
              dubious about engaging him and how right I was. On his second day with us I produced
              some of Henry’s napkins, previously rinsed by me, and asked this boy to wash them.
              He looked most offended and told me that it was beneath his dignity to do women’s
              work. We parted immediately with mutual relief.

              Now I have a good natured fellow named Japhet who, though hard on crockery,
              is prepared to do anything and loves playing with the children. He is a local boy, a
              member of the Chagga tribe. These Chagga are most intelligent and, on the whole, well
              to do as they all have their own small coffee shambas. Japhet tells me that his son is at
              the Uganda University College studying medicine.The kitchen boy is a tall youth called
              Tovelo, who helps both Hamisi, the cook, and the houseboy and also keeps an eye on
              Henry when I am sewing. I still make all the children’s clothes and my own. Life is
              pleasant but dull. George promises that he will take the whole family on safari when
              Henry is a little older.


              Lyamungu 18th July 1944

              Dearest Family,

              Life drifts quietly by at Lyamungu with each day much like the one before – or
              they would be, except that the children provide the sort of excitement that prohibits
              boredom. Of the three boys our Jim is the best at this. Last week Jim wandered into the
              coffee plantation beside our house and chewed some newly spayed berries. Result?
              A high temperature and nasty, bloody diarrhoea, so we had to rush him to the hospital at
              Moshi for treatment. however he was well again next day and George went off on safari.
              That night there was another crisis. As the nights are now very cold, at this high
              altitude, we have a large fire lit in the living room and the boy leaves a pile of logs
              beside the hearth so that I can replenish the fire when necessary. Well that night I took
              Henry off to bed, leaving John and Jim playing in the living room. When their bedtime
              came, I called them without leaving the bedroom. When I had tucked John and Jim into
              bed, I sat reading a bedtime story as I always do. Suddenly I saw smoke drifting
              through the door, and heard a frightening rumbling noise. Japhet rushed in to say that the
              lounge chimney was on fire! Picture me, panic on the inside and sweet smile on the
              outside, as I picked Henry up and said to the other two, “There’s nothing to be
              frightened about chaps, but get up and come outside for a bit.” Stupid of me to be so
              heroic because John and Jim were not at all scared but only too delighted at the chance
              of rushing about outside in the dark. The fire to them was just a bit of extra fun.

              We hurried out to find one boy already on the roof and the other passing up a
              brimming bucket of water. Other boys appeared from nowhere and soon cascades of
              water were pouring down the chimney. The result was a mountain of smouldering soot
              on the hearth and a pool of black water on the living room floor. However the fire was out
              and no serious harm done because all the floors here are cement and another stain on
              the old rug will hardly be noticed. As the children reluctantly returned to bed John
              remarked smugly, “I told Jim not to put all the wood on the fire at once but he wouldn’t
              listen.” I might have guessed!

              However it was not Jim but John who gave me the worst turn of all this week. As
              a treat I decided to take the boys to the river for a picnic tea. The river is not far from our
              house but we had never been there before so I took the kitchen boy, Tovelo, to show
              us the way. The path is on the level until one is in sight of the river when the bank slopes
              steeply down. I decided that it was too steep for the pram so I stopped to lift Henry out
              and carry him. When I looked around I saw John running down the slope towards the
              river. The stream is not wide but flows swiftly and I had no idea how deep it was. All I
              knew was that it was a trout stream. I called for John, “Stop, wait for me!” but he ran on
              and made for a rude pole bridge which spanned the river. He started to cross and then,
              to my horror, I saw John slip. There was a splash and he disappeared under the water. I
              just dumped the baby on the ground, screamed to the boy to mind him and ran madly
              down the slope to the river. Suddenly I saw John’s tight fitting felt hat emerge, then his
              eyes and nose. I dashed into the water and found, to my intense relief, that it only
              reached up to my shoulders but, thank heaven no further. John’s steady eyes watched
              me trustingly as I approached him and carried him safely to the bank. He had been
              standing on a rock and had not panicked at all though he had to stand up very straight
              and tall to keep his nose out of water. I was too proud of him to scold him for
              disobedience and too wet anyway.

              I made John undress and put on two spare pullovers and wrapped Henry’s
              baby blanket round his waist like a sarong. We made a small fire over which I crouched
              with literally chattering teeth whilst Tovelo ran home to fetch a coat for me and dry clothes
              for John.


              Lyamungu 16th August 1944

              Dearest Family,

              We have a new bull terrier bitch pup whom we have named Fanny III . So once
              more we have a menagerie , the two dogs, two cats Susie and Winnie, and
              some pet hens who live in the garage and are a real nuisance.

              As John is nearly six I thought it time that he started lessons and wrote off to Dar
              es Salaam for the correspondence course. We have had one week of lessons and I am
              already in a state of physical and mental exhaustion. John is a most reluctant scholar.
              “Why should I learn to read, when you can read to me?” he asks, and “Anyway why
              should I read such stupid stuff, ‘Run Rover Run’, and ‘Mother play with baby’ . Who
              wants to read about things like that? I don’t.”

              He rather likes sums, but the only subject about which he is enthusiastic is
              prehistoric history. He laps up information about ‘The Tree Dwellers’, though he is very
              sceptical about the existence of such people. “God couldn’t be so silly to make people
              so stupid. Fancy living in trees when it is easy to make huts like the natives.” ‘The Tree
              Dwellers is a highly imaginative story about a revolting female called Sharptooth and her
              offspring called Bodo. I have a very clear mental image of Sharptooth, so it came as a
              shock to me and highly amused George when John looked at me reflectively across the
              tea table and said, “Mummy I expect Sharptooth looked like you. You have a sharp
              tooth too!” I have, my eye teeth are rather sharp, but I hope the resemblance stops

              John has an uncomfortably logical mind for a small boy. The other day he was
              lying on the lawn staring up at the clouds when he suddenly muttered “I don’t believe it.”
              “Believe what?” I asked. “That Jesus is coming on a cloud one day. How can he? The
              thick ones always stay high up. What’s he going to do, jump down with a parachute?”
              Tovelo, my kitchen boy, announced one evening that his grandmother was in the
              kitchen and wished to see me. She was a handsome and sensible Chagga woman who
              brought sad news. Her little granddaughter had stumbled backwards into a large cooking
              pot of almost boiling maize meal porridge and was ‘ngongwa sana’ (very ill). I grabbed
              a large bottle of Picric Acid and a packet of gauze which we keep for these emergencies
              and went with her, through coffee shambas and banana groves to her daughter’s house.
              Inside the very neat thatched hut the mother sat with the naked child lying face
              downwards on her knee. The child’s buttocks and the back of her legs were covered in
              huge burst blisters from which a watery pus dripped. It appeared that the accident had
              happened on the previous day.

              I could see that it was absolutely necessary to clean up the damaged area, and I
              suddenly remembered that there was a trained African hospital dresser on the station. I
              sent the father to fetch him and whilst the dresser cleaned off the sloughed skin with
              forceps and swabs saturated in Picric Acid, I cut the gauze into small squares which I
              soaked in the lotion and laid on the cleaned area. I thought the small pieces would be
              easier to change especially as the whole of the most tender parts, front and back, were
              badly scalded. The child seemed dazed and neither the dresser nor I thought she would
              live. I gave her half an aspirin and left three more half tablets to be given four hourly.
              Next day she seemed much brighter. I poured more lotion on the gauze
              disturbing as few pieces as possible and again the next day and the next. After a week
              the skin was healing well and the child eating normally. I am sure she will be all right now.
              The new skin is a brilliant red and very shiny but it is pale round the edges of the burnt
              area and will I hope later turn brown. The mother never uttered a word of thanks, but the
              granny is grateful and today brought the children a bunch of bananas.


              c/o Game Dept. P.O.Moshi. 29th September 1944

              Dearest Mummy,

              I am so glad that you so enjoyed my last letter with the description of our very
              interesting and enjoyable safari through Masailand. You said you would like an even
              fuller description of it to pass around amongst the relations, so, to please you, I have
              written it out in detail and enclose the result.

              We have spent a quiet week after our exertions and all are well here.

              Very much love,

              Safari in Masailand

              George and I were at tea with our three little boys on the front lawn of our house
              in Lyamungu, Northern Tanganyika. It was John’s sixth birthday and he and Jim, a
              happy sturdy three year old, and Henry, aged eleven months, were munching the
              squares of plain chocolate which rounded off the party, when George said casually
              across the table to me, “Could you be ready by the day after tomorrow to go on
              safari?” “Me too?” enquired John anxiously, before I had time to reply, and “Me too?”
              echoed Jim. “yes, of course I can”, said I to George and “of course you’re coming too”,
              to the children who rate a day spent in the bush higher than any other pleasure.
              So in the early morning two days later, we started out happily for Masailand in a
              three ton Ford lorry loaded to capacity with the five Rushbys, the safari paraphernalia,
              drums of petrol and quite a retinue of servants and Game Scouts. George travelling
              alone on his monthly safaris, takes only the cook and a couple of Game Scouts, but this was to be a safari de luxe.

              Henry and I shared the cab with George who was driving, whilst John and Jim
              with the faithful orderly Mabemba beside them to point out the game animals, were
              installed upon rolls of bedding in the body of the lorry. The lorry lumbered along, first
              through coffee shambas, and then along the main road between Moshi and Arusha.
              After half an hour or so, we turned South off the road into a track which crossed the
              Sanya Plains and is the beginning of this part of Masailand. Though the dry season was
              at its height, and the pasture dry and course, we were soon passing small groups of
              game. This area is a Game Sanctuary and the antelope grazed quietly quite undisturbed
              by the passing lorry. Here and there zebra stood bunched by the road, a few wild
              ostriches stalked jerkily by, and in the distance some wildebeest cavorted around in their
              crazy way.

              Soon the grasslands gave way to thorn bush, and we saw six fantastically tall
              giraffe standing motionless with their heads turned enquiringly towards us. George
              stopped the lorry so the children could have a good view of them. John was enchanted
              but Jim, alas, was asleep.

              At mid day we reached the Kikoletwa River and turned aside to camp. Beside
              the river, under huge leafy trees, there was a beautiful camping spot, but the river was
              deep and reputed to be full of crocodiles so we passed it by and made our camp
              some distance from the river under a tall thorn tree with a flat lacy canopy. All around the
              camp lay uprooted trees of similar size that had been pushed over by elephants. As
              soon as the lorry stopped a camp chair was set up for me and the Game Scouts quickly
              slashed down grass and cleared the camp site of thorns. The same boys then pitched the tent whilst George himself set up the three camp beds and the folding cot for Henry,
              and set up the safari table and the canvas wash bowl and bath.

              The cook in the meantime had cleared a cool spot for the kitchen , opened up the
              chop boxes and started a fire. The cook’s boy and the dhobi (laundry boy) brought
              water from the rather muddy river and tea was served followed shortly afterward by an
              excellent lunch. In a very short time the camp had a suprisingly homely look. Nappies
              fluttered from a clothes line, Henry slept peacefully in his cot, John and Jim sprawled on
              one bed looking at comics, and I dozed comfortably on another.

              George, with the Game Scouts, drove off in the lorry about his work. As a Game
              Ranger it is his business to be on a constant look out for poachers, both African and
              European, and for disease in game which might infect the valuable herds of Masai cattle.
              The lorry did not return until dusk by which time the children had bathed enthusiastically in
              the canvas bath and were ready for supper and bed. George backed the lorry at right
              angles to the tent, Henry’s cot and two camp beds were set up in the lorry, the tarpaulin
              was lashed down and the children put to bed in their novel nursery.

              When darkness fell a large fire was lit in front of the camp, the exited children at
              last fell asleep and George and I sat on by the fire enjoying the cool and quiet night.
              When the fire subsided into a bed of glowing coals, it was time for our bed. During the
              night I was awakened by the sound of breaking branches and strange indescribable
              noises.” Just elephant”, said George comfortably and instantly fell asleep once more. I
              didn’t! We rose with the birds next morning, but breakfast was ready and in a
              remarkably short time the lorry had been reloaded and we were once more on our way.
              For about half a mile we made our own track across the plain and then we turned
              into the earth road once more. Soon we had reached the river and were looking with
              dismay at the suspension bridge which we had to cross. At the far side, one steel
              hawser was missing and there the bridge tilted dangerously. There was no handrail but
              only heavy wooden posts which marked the extremities of the bridge. WhenGeorge
              measured the distance between the posts he found that there could be barely two
              inches to spare on either side of the cumbersome lorry.

              He decided to risk crossing, but the children and I and all the servants were told to
              cross the bridge and go down the track out of sight. The Game Scouts remained on the
              river bank on the far side of the bridge and stood ready for emergencies. As I walked
              along anxiously listening, I was horrified to hear the lorry come to a stop on the bridge.
              There was a loud creaking noise and I instantly visualised the lorry slowly toppling over
              into the deep crocodile infested river. The engine restarted, the lorry crossed the bridge
              and came slowly into sight around the bend. My heart slid back into its normal position.
              George was as imperturbable as ever and simply remarked that it had been a near
              thing and that we would return to Lyamungu by another route.

              Beyond the green river belt the very rutted track ran through very uninteresting
              thorn bush country. Henry was bored and tiresome, jumping up and down on my knee
              and yelling furiously. “Teeth”, said I apologetically to George, rashly handing a match
              box to Henry to keep him quiet. No use at all! With a fat finger he poked out the tray
              spilling the matches all over me and the floor. Within seconds Henry had torn the
              matchbox to pieces with his teeth and flung the battered remains through the window.
              An empty cigarette box met with the same fate as the match box and the yells
              continued unabated until Henry slept from sheer exhaustion. George gave me a smile,
              half sympathetic and half sardonic, “Enjoying the safari, my love?” he enquired. On these
              trying occasions George has the inestimable advantage of being able to go into a Yogilike
              trance, whereas I become irritated to screaming point.

              In an effort to prolong Henry’s slumber I braced my feet against the floor boards
              and tried to turn myself into a human shock absorber as we lurched along the eroded
              track. Several times my head made contact with the bolt of a rifle in the rack above, and
              once I felt I had shattered my knee cap against the fire extinguisher in a bracket under the
              dash board.

              Strange as it may seem, I really was enjoying the trip in spite of these
              discomforts. At last after three years I was once more on safari with George. This type of
              country was new to me and there was so much to see We passed a family of giraffe
              standing in complete immobility only a few yards from the track. Little dick-dick. one of the smallest of the antelope, scuttled in pairs across the road and that afternoon I had my first view of Gerenuk, curious red brown antelope with extremely elongated legs and giraffe-like necks.

              Most interesting of all was my first sight of Masai at home. We could hear a tuneful
              jangle of cattle bells and suddenly came across herds of humped cattle browsing upon
              the thorn bushes. The herds were guarded by athletic,striking looking Masai youths and men.
              Each had a calabash of water slung over his shoulder and a tall, highly polished spear in his
              hand. These herdsmen were quite unselfconscious though they wore no clothing except for one carelessly draped blanket. Very few gave us any greeting but glanced indifferently at us from under fringes of clay-daubed plaited hair . The rest of their hair was drawn back behind the ears to display split earlobes stretched into slender loops by the weight of heavy brass or copper tribal ear rings.

              Most of the villages were set well back in the bush out of sight of the road but we did pass one
              typical village which looked most primitive indeed. It consisted simply of a few mound like mud huts which were entirely covered with a plaster of mud and cattle dung and the whole clutch of huts were surrounded by a ‘boma’ of thorn to keep the cattle in at night and the lions out. There was a gathering of women and children on the road at this point. The children of both sexes were naked and unadorned, but the women looked very fine indeed. This is not surprising for they have little to do but adorn themselves, unlike their counterparts of other tribes who have to work hard cultivating the fields. The Masai women, and others I saw on safari, were far more amiable and cheerful looking than the men and were well proportioned.

              They wore skirts of dressed goat skin, knee length in front but ankle length behind. Their arms
              from elbow to wrist, and legs from knee to ankle, were encased in tight coils of copper and
              galvanised wire. All had their heads shaved and in some cases bound by a leather band
              embroidered in red white and blue beads. Circular ear rings hung from slit earlobes and their
              handsome throats were encircled by stiff wire necklaces strung with brightly coloured beads. These
              necklaces were carefully graded in size and formed deep collars almost covering their breasts.
              About a quarter of a mile further along the road we met eleven young braves in gala attire, obviously on their way to call on the girls. They formed a line across the road and danced up and down until the lorry was dangerously near when they parted and grinned cheerfully at us. These were the only cheerful
              looking male Masai that I saw. Like the herdsmen these youths wore only a blanket, but their
              blankets were ochre colour, and elegantly draped over their backs. Their naked bodies gleamed with oil. Several had painted white stripes on their faces, and two had whitewashed their faces entirely which I
              thought a pity. All had their long hair elaborately dressed and some carried not only one,
              but two gleaming spears.

              By mid day George decided that we had driven far enough for that day. He
              stopped the lorry and consulted a rather unreliable map. “Somewhere near here is a
              place called Lolbeni,” he said. “The name means Sweet Water, I hear that the
              government have piped spring water down from the mountain into a small dam at which
              the Masai water their cattle.” Lolbeni sounded pleasant to me. Henry was dusty and
              cross, the rubber sheet had long slipped from my lap to the floor and I was conscious of
              a very damp lap. ‘Sweet Waters’ I felt, would put all that right. A few hundred yards
              away a small herd of cattle was grazing, so George lit his pipe and relaxed at last, whilst
              a Game Scout went off to find the herdsman. The scout soon returned with an ancient
              and emaciated Masai who was thrilled at the prospect of his first ride in a lorry and
              offered to direct us to Lolbeni which was off the main track and about four miles away.

              Once Lolbeni had been a small administrative post and a good track had
              led to it, but now the Post had been abandoned and the road is dotted with vigourous
              thorn bushes and the branches of larger thorn trees encroach on the track The road had
              deteriorated to a mere cattle track, deeply rutted and eroded by heavy rains over a
              period of years. The great Ford truck, however, could take it. It lurched victoriously along,
              mowing down the obstructions, tearing off branches from encroaching thorn trees with its
              high railed sides, spanning gorges in the track, and climbing in and out of those too wide
              to span. I felt an army tank could not have done better.

              I had expected Lolbeni to be a green oasis in a desert of grey thorns, but I was
              quickly disillusioned. To be sure the thorn trees were larger and more widely spaced and
              provided welcome shade, but the ground under the trees had been trampled by thousands of cattle into a dreary expanse of dirty grey sand liberally dotted with cattle droppings and made still more uninviting by the bleached bones of dead beasts.

              To the right of this waste rose a high green hill which gave the place its name and from which
              the precious water was piped, but its slopes were too steep to provide a camping site.
              Flies swarmed everywhere and I was most relieved when George said that we would
              stay only long enough to fill our cans with water. Even the water was a disappointment!
              The water in the small dam was low and covered by a revolting green scum, and though
              the water in the feeding pipe was sweet, it trickled so feebly that it took simply ages to
              fill a four gallon can.

              However all these disappointments were soon forgotten for we drove away
              from the flies and dirt and trampled sand and soon, with their quiet efficiency, George
              and his men set up a comfortable camp. John and Jim immediately started digging
              operations in the sandy soil whilst Henry and I rested. After tea George took his shot
              gun and went off to shoot guinea fowl and partridges for the pot. The children and I went
              walking, keeping well in site of camp, and soon we saw a very large flock of Vulturine
              Guineafowl, running aimlessly about and looking as tame as barnyard fowls, but melting
              away as soon as we moved in their direction.

              We had our second quiet and lovely evening by the camp fire, followed by a
              peaceful night.

              We left Lolbeni very early next morning, which was a good thing, for as we left
              camp the herds of thirsty cattle moved in from all directions. They were accompanied by
              Masai herdsmen, their naked bodies and blankets now covered by volcanic dust which
              was being stirred in rising clouds of stifling ash by the milling cattle, and also by grey
              donkeys laden with panniers filled with corked calabashes for water.

              Our next stop was Nabarera, a Masai cattle market and trading centre, where we
              reluctantly stayed for two days in a pokey Goverment Resthouse because George had
              a job to do in that area. The rest was good for Henry who promptly produced a tooth
              and was consequently much better behaved for the rest of the trip. George was away in the bush most of the day but he returned for afternoon tea and later took the children out
              walking. We had noticed curious white dumps about a quarter mile from the resthouse
              and on the second afternoon we set out to investigate them. Behind the dumps we
              found passages about six foot wide, cut through solid limestone. We explored two of
              these and found that both passages led steeply down to circular wells about two and a
              half feet in diameter.

              At the very foot of each passage, beside each well, rough drinking troughs had
              been cut in the stone. The herdsmen haul the water out of the well in home made hide
              buckets, the troughs are filled and the cattle driven down the ramps to drink at the trough.
              It was obvious that the wells were ancient and the sloping passages new. George tells
              me that no one knows what ancient race dug the original wells. It seems incredible that
              these deep and narrow shafts could have been sunk without machinery. I craned my
              neck and looked above one well and could see an immensely long shaft reaching up to
              ground level. Small footholds were cut in the solid rock as far as I could see.
              It seems that the Masai are as ignorant as ourselves about the origin of these
              wells. They do say however that when their forebears first occupied what is now known
              as Masailand, they not only found the Wanderobo tribe in the area but also a light
              skinned people and they think it possible that these light skinned people dug the wells.
              These people disappeared. They may have been absorbed or, more likely, they were

              The Masai had found the well impractical in their original form and had hired
              labourers from neighbouring tribes to cut the passages to water level. Certainly the Masai are not responsible for the wells. They are a purely pastoral people and consider manual labour extremely degrading.

              They live chiefly on milk from their herd which they allow to go sour, and mix with blood that has been skilfully tapped from the necks of living cattle. They do not eat game meat, nor do they cultivate any
              land. They hunt with spears, but hunt only lions, to protect their herds, and to test the skill
              and bravery of their young warriors. What little grain they do eat is transported into
              Masailand by traders. The next stage of our journey took us to Ngassamet where
              George was to pick up some elephant tusks. I had looked forward particularly to this
              stretch of road for I had heard that there was a shallow lake at which game congregates,
              and at which I had great hopes of seeing elephants. We had come too late in the
              season though, the lake was dry and there were only piles of elephant droppings to
              prove that elephant had recently been there in numbers. Ngassamet, though no beauty
              spot, was interesting. We saw more elaborate editions of the wells already described, and as this area
              is rich in cattle we saw the aristocrats of the Masai. You cannot conceive of a more arrogant looking male than a young Masai brave striding by on sandalled feet, unselfconscious in all his glory. All the young men wore the casually draped traditional ochre blanket and carried one or more spears. But here belts and long knife sheaths of scarlet leather seem to be the fashion. Here fringes do not seem to be the thing. Most of these young Masai had their hair drawn smoothly back and twisted in a pointed queue, the whole plastered with a smooth coating of red clay. Some tied their horn shaped queues over their heads
              so that the tip formed a deep Satanic peak on the brow. All these young men wore the traditional
              copper earrings and I saw one or two with copper bracelets and one with a necklace of brightly coloured

              It so happened that, on the day of our visit to Ngassamet, there had been a
              baraza (meeting) which was attended by all the local headmen and elders. These old
              men came to pay their respects to George and a more shrewd and rascally looking
              company I have never seen, George told me that some of these men own up to three
              thousand head of cattle and more. The chief was as fat and Rabelasian as his second in
              command was emaciated, bucktoothed and prim. The Chief shook hands with George
              and greeted me and settled himself on the wall of the resthouse porch opposite
              George. The lesser headmen, after politely greeting us, grouped themselves in a
              semi circle below the steps with their ‘aides’ respectfully standing behind them. I
              remained sitting in the only chair and watched the proceedings with interest and

              These old Masai, I noticed, cared nothing for adornment. They had proved
              themselves as warriors in the past and were known to be wealthy and influential so did
              not need to make any display. Most of them had their heads comfortably shaved and
              wore only a drab blanket or goatskin cloak. Their only ornaments were earrings whose
              effect was somewhat marred by the serviceable and homely large safety pin that
              dangled from the lobe of one ear. All carried staves instead of spears and all, except for
              Buckteeth and one blind old skeleton of a man, appeared to have a keenly developed
              sense of humour.

              “Mummy?” asked John in an urgent whisper, “Is that old blind man nearly dead?”
              “Yes dear”, said I, “I expect he’ll soon die.” “What here?” breathed John in a tone of
              keen anticipation and, until the meeting broke up and the old man left, he had John’s
              undivided attention.

              After local news and the game situation had been discussed, the talk turned to the
              war. “When will the war end?” moaned the fat Chief. “We have made great gifts of cattle
              to the War Funds, we are taxed out of existence.” George replied with the Ki-Swahili
              equivalent of ‘Sez you!’. This sally was received with laughter and the old fellows rose to
              go. They made their farewells and dignified exits, pausing on their way to stare at our
              pink and white Henry, who sat undismayed in his push chair giving them stare for stare
              from his striking grey eyes.

              Towards evening some Masai, prompted no doubt by our native servants,
              brought a sheep for sale. It was the last night of the fast of Ramadan and our
              Mohammedan boys hoped to feast next day at our expense. Their faces fell when
              George refused to buy the animal. “Why should I pay fifteen shillings for a sheep?” he
              asked, “Am I not the Bwana Nyama and is not the bush full of my sheep?” (Bwana
              Nyama is the native name for a Game Ranger, but means literally, ‘Master of the meat’)
              George meant that he would shoot a buck for the men next day, but this incident was to
              have a strange sequel. Ngassamet resthouse consists of one room so small we could
              not put up all our camp beds and George and I slept on the cement floor which was
              unkind to my curves. The night was bitterly cold and all night long hyaenas screeched
              hideously outside. So we rose at dawn without reluctance and were on our way before it
              was properly light.

              George had decided that it would be foolhardy to return home by our outward
              route as he did not care to risk another crossing of the suspension bridge. So we
              returned to Nabarera and there turned onto a little used track which would eventually take
              us to the Great North Road a few miles South of Arusha. There was not much game
              about but I saw Oryx which I had not previously seen. Soon it grew intolerably hot and I
              think all of us but George were dozing when he suddenly stopped the lorry and pointed
              to the right. “Mpishi”, he called to the cook, “There’s your sheep!” True enough, on that
              dreary thorn covered plain,with not another living thing in sight, stood a fat black sheep.

              There was an incredulous babbling from the back of the lorry. Every native
              jumped to the ground and in no time at all the wretched sheep was caught and
              slaughtered. I felt sick. “Oh George”, I wailed, “The poor lost sheep! I shan’t eat a scrap
              of it.” George said nothing but went and had a look at the sheep and called out to me,
              “Come and look at it. It was kindness to kill the poor thing, the vultures have been at it
              already and the hyaenas would have got it tonight.” I went reluctantly and saw one eye
              horribly torn out, and small deep wounds on the sheep’s back where the beaks of the
              vultures had cut through the heavy fleece. Poor thing! I went back to the lorry more
              determined than ever not to eat mutton on that trip. The Scouts and servants had no
              such scruples. The fine fat sheep had been sent by Allah for their feast day and that was
              the end of it.

              “ ‘Mpishi’ is more convinced than ever that I am a wizard”, said George in
              amusement as he started the lorry. I knew what he meant. Several times before George
              had foretold something which had later happened. Pure coincidence, but strange enough
              to give rise to a legend that George had the power to arrange things. “What happened
              of course”, explained George, “Is that a flock of Masai sheep was driven to market along
              this track yesterday or the day before. This one strayed and was not missed.”

              The day grew hotter and hotter and for long miles we looked out for a camping
              spot but could find little shade and no trace of water anywhere. At last, in the early
              afternoon we reached another pokey little rest house and asked for water. “There is no
              water here,” said the native caretaker. “Early in the morning there is water in a well nearby
              but we are allowed only one kerosene tin full and by ten o’clock the well is dry.” I looked
              at George in dismay for we were all so tired and dusty. “Where do the Masai from the
              village water their cattle then?” asked George. “About two miles away through the bush.
              If you take me with you I shall show you”, replied the native.

              So we turned off into the bush and followed a cattle track even more tortuous than
              the one to Lolbeni. Two Scouts walked ahead to warn us of hazards and I stretched my
              arm across the open window to fend off thorns. Henry screamed with fright and hunger.
              But George’s efforts to reach water went unrewarded as we were brought to a stop by
              a deep donga. The native from the resthouse was apologetic. He had mistaken the
              path, perhaps if we turned back we might find it. George was beyond speech. We
              lurched back the way we had come and made our camp under the first large tree we
              could find. Then off went our camp boys on foot to return just before dark with the water.
              However they were cheerful for there was an unlimited quantity of dry wood for their fires
              and meat in plenty for their feast. Long after George and I left our campfire and had gone
              to bed, we could see the cheerful fires of the boys and hear their chatter and laughter.
              I woke in the small hours to hear the insane cackling of hyaenas gloating over a
              find. Later I heard scuffling around the camp table, I peered over the tailboard of the lorry
              and saw George come out of his tent. What are you doing?” I whispered. “Looking for
              something to throw at those bloody hyaenas,” answered George for all the world as
              though those big brutes were tomcats on the prowl. Though the hyaenas kept up their
              concert all night the children never stirred, nor did any of them wake at night throughout
              the safari.

              Early next morning I walked across to the camp kitchen to enquire into the loud
              lamentations coming from that quarter. “Oh Memsahib”, moaned the cook, “We could
              not sleep last night for the bad hyaenas round our tents. They have taken every scrap of
              meat we had left over from the feast., even the meat we had left to smoke over the fire.”
              Jim, who of our three young sons is the cook’s favourite commiserated with him. He said
              in Ki-Swahili, which he speaks with great fluency, “Truly those hyaenas are very bad
              creatures. They also robbed us. They have taken my hat from the table and eaten the
              new soap from the washbowl.

              Our last day in the bush was a pleasantly lazy one. We drove through country
              that grew more open and less dry as we approached Arusha. We pitched our camp
              near a large dam, and the water was a blessed sight after a week of scorched country.
              On the plains to the right of our camp was a vast herd of native cattle enjoying a brief
              rest after their long day trek through Masailand. They were destined to walk many more
              weary miles before reaching their destination, a meat canning factory in Kenya.
              The ground to the left of the camp rose gently to form a long low hill and on the
              grassy slopes we could see wild ostriches and herds of wildebeest, zebra and
              antelope grazing amicably side by side. In the late afternoon I watched the groups of
              zebra and wildebeest merge into one. Then with a wildebeest leading, they walked
              down the slope in single file to drink at the vlei . When they were satisfied, a wildebeest
              once more led the herd up the trail. The others followed in a long and orderly file, and
              vanished over the hill to their evening pasture.

              When they had gone, George took up his shotgun and invited John to
              accompany him to the dam to shoot duck. This was the first time John had acted as
              retriever but he did very well and proudly helped to carry a mixed bag of sand grouse
              and duck back to camp.

              Next morning we turned into the Great North Road and passed first through
              carefully tended coffee shambas and then through the township of Arusha, nestling at
              the foot of towering Mount Meru. Beyond Arusha we drove through the Usa River
              settlement where again coffee shambas and European homesteads line the road, and
              saw before us the magnificent spectacle of Kilimanjaro unveiled, its white snow cap
              gleaming in the sunlight. Before mid day we were home. “Well was it worth it?” enquired
              George at lunch. “Lovely,” I replied. ”Let’s go again soon.” Then thinking regretfully of
              our absent children I sighed, “If only Ann, George, and Kate could have gone with us

              Lyamungu 10th November. 1944

              Dearest Family.

              Mummy wants to know how I fill in my time with George away on safari for weeks
              on end. I do believe that you all picture me idling away my days, waited on hand and
              foot by efficient servants! On the contrary, life is one rush and the days never long

              To begin with, our servants are anything but efficient, apart from our cook, Hamisi
              Issa, who really is competent. He suffers from frustration because our budget will not run
              to elaborate dishes so there is little scope for his culinary art. There is one masterpiece
              which is much appreciated by John and Jim. Hamisi makes a most realistic crocodile out
              of pastry and stuffs its innards with minced meat. This revolting reptile is served on a
              bed of parsley on my largest meat dish. The cook is a strict Mohammedan and
              observes all the fasts and daily prayers and, like all Mohammedans he is very clean in
              his person and, thank goodness, in the kitchen.

              His wife is his pride and joy but not his helpmate. She does absolutely nothing
              but sit in a chair in the sun all day, sipping tea and smoking cigarettes – a more
              expensive brand than mine! It is Hamisi who sweeps out their quarters, cooks
              delectable curries for her, and spends more than he can afford on clothing and trinkets for
              his wife. She just sits there with her ‘Mona Lisa’ smile and her painted finger and toe
              nails, doing absolutely nothing.

              The thing is that natives despise women who do work and this applies especially
              to their white employers. House servants much prefer a Memsahib who leaves
              everything to them and is careless about locking up her pantry. When we first came to
              Lyamungu I had great difficulty in employing a houseboy. A couple of rather efficient
              ones did approach me but when they heard the wages I was prepared to pay and that
              there was no number 2 boy, they simply were not interested. Eventually I took on a
              local boy called Japhet who suits me very well except that his sight is not good and he
              is extremely hard on the crockery. He tells me that he has lost face by working here
              because his friends say that he works for a family that is too mean to employ a second
              boy. I explained that with our large family we simply cannot afford to pay more, but this
              didn’t register at all. Japhet says “But Wazungu (Europeans) all have money. They just
              have to get it from the Bank.”

              The third member of our staff is a strapping youth named Tovelo who helps both
              cook and boy, and consequently works harder than either. What do I do? I chivvy the
              servants, look after the children, supervise John’s lessons, and make all my clothing and
              the children’s on that blessed old hand sewing machine.

              The folk on this station entertain a good deal but we usually decline invitations
              because we simply cannot afford to reciprocate. However, last Saturday night I invited
              two couples to drinks and dinner. This was such an unusual event that the servants and I
              were thrown into a flurry. In the end the dinner went off well though it ended in disaster. In
              spite of my entreaties and exhortations to Japhet not to pile everything onto the tray at
              once when clearing the table, he did just that. We were starting our desert and I was
              congratulating myself that all had gone well when there was a frightful crash of breaking
              china on the back verandah. I excused myself and got up to investigate. A large meat
              dish, six dinner plates and four vegetable dishes lay shattered on the cement floor! I
              controlled my tongue but what my eyes said to Japhet is another matter. What he said
              was, “It is not my fault Memsahib. The handle of the tray came off.”

              It is a curious thing about native servants that they never accept responsibility for
              a mishap. If they cannot pin their misdeeds onto one of their fellow servants then the responsibility rests with God. ‘Shauri ya Mungu’, (an act of God) is a familiar cry. Fatalists
              can be very exasperating employees.

              The loss of my dinner service is a real tragedy because, being war time, one can
              buy only china of the poorest quality made for the native trade. Nor was that the final
              disaster of the evening. When we moved to the lounge for coffee I noticed that the
              coffee had been served in the battered old safari coffee pot instead of the charming little
              antique coffee pot which my Mother-in-law had sent for our tenth wedding anniversary.
              As there had already been a disturbance I made no comment but resolved to give the
              cook a piece of my mind in the morning. My instructions to the cook had been to warm
              the coffee pot with hot water immediately before serving. On no account was he to put
              the pewter pot on the hot iron stove. He did and the result was a small hole in the base
              of the pot – or so he says. When I saw the pot next morning there was a two inch hole in

              Hamisi explained placidly how this had come about. He said he knew I would be
              mad when I saw the little hole so he thought he would have it mended and I might not
              notice it. Early in the morning he had taken the pewter pot to the mechanic who looks
              after the Game Department vehicles and had asked him to repair it. The bright individual
              got busy with the soldering iron with the most devastating result. “It’s his fault,” said
              Hamisi, “He is a mechanic, he should have known what would happen.”
              One thing is certain, there will be no more dinner parties in this house until the war
              is ended.

              The children are well and so am I, and so was George when he left on his safari
              last Monday.

              Much love,



                From Tanganyika with Love

                continued  ~ part 6

                With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                Mchewe 6th June 1937

                Dearest Family,

                Home again! We had an uneventful journey. Kate was as good as gold all the
                way. We stopped for an hour at Bulawayo where we had to change trains but
                everything was simplified for me by a very pleasant man whose wife shared my
                compartment. Not only did he see me through customs but he installed us in our new
                train and his wife turned up to see us off with magazines for me and fruit and sweets for
                Kate. Very, very kind, don’t you think?

                Kate and I shared the compartment with a very pretty and gentle girl called
                Clarice Simpson. She was very worried and upset because she was going home to
                Broken Hill in response to a telegram informing her that her young husband was
                dangerously ill from Blackwater Fever. She was very helpful with Kate whose
                cheerfulness helped Clarice, I think, though I, quite unintentionally was the biggest help
                at the end of our journey. Remember the partial dentures I had had made just before
                leaving Cape Town? I know I shall never get used to the ghastly things, I’ve had them
                two weeks now and they still wobble. Well this day I took them out and wrapped them
                in a handkerchief, but when we were packing up to leave the train I could find the
                handkerchief but no teeth! We searched high and low until the train had slowed down to
                enter Broken Hill station. Then Clarice, lying flat on the floor, spied the teeth in the dark
                corner under the bottom bunk. With much stretching she managed to retrieve the
                dentures covered in grime and fluff. My look of horror, when I saw them, made young
                Clarice laugh. She was met at the station by a very grave elderly couple. I do wonder
                how things turned out for her.

                I stayed overnight with Kate at the Great Northern Hotel, and we set off for
                Mbeya by plane early in the morning. One of our fellow passengers was a young
                mother with a three week old baby. How ideas have changed since Ann was born. This
                time we had a smooth passage and I was the only passenger to get airsick. Although
                there were other women passengers it was a man once again, who came up and
                offered to help. Kate went off with him amiably and he entertained her until we touched
                down at Mbeya.

                George was there to meet us with a wonderful surprise, a little red two seater
                Ford car. She is a bit battered and looks a bit odd because the boot has been
                converted into a large wooden box for carrying raw salt, but she goes like the wind.
                Where did George raise the cash to buy a car? Whilst we were away he found a small
                cave full of bat guano near a large cave which is worked by a man called Bob Sargent.
                As Sargent did not want any competition he bought the contents of the cave from
                George giving him the small car as part payment.

                It was lovely to return to our little home and find everything fresh and tidy and the
                garden full of colour. But it was heartbreaking to go into the bedroom and see George’s
                precious forgotten boots still standing by his empty bed.

                With much love,

                Mchewe 25th June 1937

                Dearest Family,

                Last Friday George took Kate and me in the little red Ford to visit Mr Sargent’s
                camp on the Songwe River which cuts the Mbeya-Mbosi road. Mr Sargent bought
                Hicky-Wood’s guano deposit and also our small cave and is making a good living out of
                selling the bat guano to the coffee farmers in this province. George went to try to interest
                him in a guano deposit near Kilwa in the Southern Province. Mr Sargent agreed to pay
                25 pounds to cover the cost of the car trip and pegging costs. George will make the trip
                to peg the claim and take samples for analysis. If the quality is sufficiently high, George
                and Mr Sargent will go into partnership. George will work the claim and ship out the
                guano from Kilwa which is on the coast of the Southern Province of Tanganyika. So now
                we are busy building castles in the air once more.

                On Saturday we went to Mbeya where George had to attend a meeting of the
                Trout Association. In the afternoon he played in a cricket match so Kate and I spent the
                whole day with the wife of the new Superintendent of Police. They have a very nice
                new house with lawns and a sunken rose garden. Kate had a lovely romp with Kit, her
                three year old son.

                Mrs Wolten also has two daughters by a previous marriage. The elder girl said to
                me, “Oh Mrs Rushby your husband is exactly like the strong silent type of man I
                expected to see in Africa but he is the only one I have seen. I think he looks exactly like
                those men in the ‘Barney’s Tobacco’ advertisements.”

                I went home with a huge pile of magazines to keep me entertained whilst
                George is away on the Kilwa trip.

                Lots of love,

                Mchewe 9th July 1937

                Dearest Family,

                George returned on Monday from his Kilwa safari. He had an entertaining
                tale to tell.

                Before he approached Mr Sargent about going shares in the Kilwa guano
                deposit he first approached a man on the Lupa who had done very well out of a small
                gold reef. This man, however said he was not interested so you can imagine how
                indignant George was when he started on his long trip, to find himself being trailed by
                this very man and a co-driver in a powerful Ford V8 truck. George stopped his car and
                had some heated things to say – awful threats I imagine as to what would happen to
                anyone who staked his claim. Then he climbed back into our ancient little two seater and
                went off like a bullet driving all day and most of the night. As the others took turns in
                driving you can imagine what a feat it was for George to arrive in Kilwa ahead of them.
                When they drove into Kilwa he met them with a bright smile and a bit of bluff –
                quite justifiable under the circumstances I think. He said, you chaps can have a rest now,
                you’re too late.” He then whipped off and pegged the claim. he brought some samples
                of guano back but until it has been analysed he will not know whether the guano will be
                an economic proposition or not. George is not very hopeful. He says there is a good
                deal of sand mixed with the guano and that much of it was damp.

                The trip was pretty eventful for Kianda, our houseboy. The little two seater car
                had been used by its previous owner for carting bags of course salt from his salt pans.
                For this purpose the dicky seat behind the cab had been removed, and a kind of box
                built into the boot of the car. George’s camp kit and provisions were packed into this
                open box and Kianda perched on top to keep an eye on the belongings. George
                travelled so fast on the rough road that at some point during the night Kianda was
                bumped off in the middle of the Game Reserve. George did not notice that he was
                missing until the next morning. He concluded, quite rightly as it happened, that Kianda
                would be picked up by the rival truck so he continued his journey and Kianda rejoined
                him at Kilwa.

                Believe it or not, the same thing happened on the way back but fortunately this
                time George noticed his absence. He stopped the car and had just started back on his
                tracks when Kianda came running down the road still clutching the unlighted storm lamp
                which he was holding in his hand when he fell. The glass was not even cracked.
                We are finding it difficult just now to buy native chickens and eggs. There has
                been an epidemic amongst the poultry and one hesitates to eat the survivors. I have a
                brine tub in which I preserve our surplus meat but I need the chickens for soup.
                I hope George will be home for some months. He has arranged to take a Mr
                Blackburn, a wealthy fruit farmer from Elgin, Cape, on a hunting safari during September
                and October and that should bring in some much needed cash. Lillian Eustace has
                invited Kate and me to spend the whole of October with her in Tukuyu.
                I am so glad that you so much enjoy having Ann and George with you. We miss
                them dreadfully. Kate is a pretty little girl and such a little madam. You should hear the
                imperious way in which she calls the kitchenboy for her meals. “Boy Brekkis, Boy Lunch,
                and Boy Eggy!” are her three calls for the day. She knows no Ki-Swahili.


                Mchewe 8th October 1937

                Dearest Family,

                I am rapidly becoming as superstitious as our African boys. They say the wild
                animals always know when George is away from home and come down to have their
                revenge on me because he has killed so many.

                I am being besieged at night by a most beastly leopard with a half grown cub. I
                have grown used to hearing leopards grunt as they hunt in the hills at night but never
                before have I had one roaming around literally under the windows. It has been so hot at
                night lately that I have been sleeping with my bedroom door open onto the verandah. I
                felt quite safe because the natives hereabouts are law-abiding and in any case I always
                have a boy armed with a club sleeping in the kitchen just ten yards away. As an added
                precaution I also have a loaded .45 calibre revolver on my bedside table, and Fanny
                our bullterrier, sleeps on the mat by my bed. I am also looking after Barney, a fine
                Airedale dog belonging to the Costers. He slept on a mat by the open bedroom door
                near a dimly burning storm lamp.

                As usual I went to sleep with an easy mind on Monday night, but was awakened
                in the early hours of Tuesday by the sound of a scuffle on the front verandah. The noise
                was followed by a scream of pain from Barney. I jumped out of bed and, grabbing the
                lamp with my left hand and the revolver in my right, I rushed outside just in time to see
                two animal figures roll over the edge of the verandah into the garden below. There they
                engaged in a terrific tug of war. Fortunately I was too concerned for Barney to be
                nervous. I quickly fired two shots from the revolver, which incidentally makes a noise like
                a cannon, and I must have startled the leopard for both animals, still locked together,
                disappeared over the edge of the terrace. I fired two more shots and in a few moments
                heard the leopard making a hurried exit through the dry leaves which lie thick under the
                wild fig tree just beyond the terrace. A few seconds later Barney appeared on the low
                terrace wall. I called his name but he made no move to come but stood with hanging
                head. In desperation I rushed out, felt blood on my hands when I touched him, so I
                picked him up bodily and carried him into the house. As I regained the verandah the boy
                appeared, club in hand, having been roused by the shots. He quickly grasped what had
                happened when he saw my blood saturated nightie. He fetched a bowl of water and a
                clean towel whilst I examined Barney’s wounds. These were severe, the worst being a
                gaping wound in his throat. I washed the gashes with a strong solution of pot permang
                and I am glad to say they are healing remarkably well though they are bound to leave
                scars. Fanny, very prudently, had taken no part in the fighting except for frenzied barking
                which she kept up all night. The shots had of course wakened Kate but she seemed
                more interested than alarmed and kept saying “Fanny bark bark, Mummy bang bang.
                Poor Barney lots of blood.”

                In the morning we inspected the tracks in the garden. There was a shallow furrow
                on the terrace where Barney and the leopard had dragged each other to and fro and
                claw marks on the trunk of the wild fig tree into which the leopard climbed after I fired the
                shots. The affair was of course a drama after the Africans’ hearts and several of our
                shamba boys called to see me next day to make sympathetic noises and discuss the

                I went to bed early that night hoping that the leopard had been scared off for
                good but I must confess I shut all windows and doors. Alas for my hopes of a restful
                night. I had hardly turned down the lamp when the leopard started its terrifying grunting
                just under the bedroom windows. If only she would sniff around quietly I should not
                mind, but the noise is ghastly, something like the first sickening notes of a braying
                donkey, amplified here by the hills and the gorge which is only a stones throw from the
                bedroom. Barney was too sick to bark but Fanny barked loud enough for two and the more
                frantic she became the hungrier the leopard sounded. Kate of course woke up and this
                time she was frightened though I assured her that the noise was just a donkey having
                fun. Neither of us slept until dawn when the leopard returned to the hills. When we
                examined the tracks next morning we found that the leopard had been accompanied by
                a fair sized cub and that together they had prowled around the house, kitchen, and out
                houses, visiting especially the places to which the dogs had been during the day.
                As I feel I cannot bear many more of these nights, I am sending a note to the
                District Commissioner, Mbeya by the messenger who takes this letter to the post,
                asking him to send a game scout or an armed policeman to deal with the leopard.
                So don’t worry, for by the time this reaches you I feel sure this particular trouble
                will be over.


                Mchewe 17th October 1937

                Dearest Family,

                More about the leopard I fear! My messenger returned from Mbeya to say that
                the District Officer was on safari so he had given the message to the Assistant District
                Officer who also apparently left on safari later without bothering to reply to my note, so
                there was nothing for me to do but to send for the village Nimrod and his muzzle loader
                and offer him a reward if he could frighten away or kill the leopard.

                The hunter, Laza, suggested that he should sleep at the house so I went to bed
                early leaving Laza and his two pals to make themselves comfortable on the living room
                floor by the fire. Laza was armed with a formidable looking muzzle loader, crammed I
                imagine with nuts and bolts and old rusty nails. One of his pals had a spear and the other
                a panga. This fellow was also in charge of the Petromax pressure lamp whose light was
                hidden under a packing case. I left the campaign entirely to Laza’s direction.
                As usual the leopard came at midnight stealing down from the direction of the
                kitchen and announcing its presence and position with its usual ghastly grunts. Suddenly
                pandemonium broke loose on the back verandah. I heard the roar of the muzzle loader
                followed by a vigourous tattoo beaten on an empty paraffin tin and I rushed out hoping
                to find the dead leopard. however nothing of the kind had happened except that the
                noise must have scared the beast because she did not return again that night. Next
                morning Laza solemnly informed me that, though he had shot many leopards in his day,
                this was no ordinary leopard but a “sheitani” (devil) and that as his gun was no good
                against witchcraft he thought he might as well retire from the hunt. Scared I bet, and I
                don’t blame him either.

                You can imagine my relief when a car rolled up that afternoon bringing Messers
                Stewart and Griffiths, two farmers who live about 15 miles away, between here and
                Mbeya. They had a note from the Assistant District Officer asking them to help me and
                they had come to set up a trap gun in the garden. That night the leopard sniffed all
                around the gun and I had the added strain of waiting for the bang and wondering what I
                should do if the beast were only wounded. I conjured up horrible visions of the two little
                totos trotting up the garden path with the early morning milk and being horribly mauled,
                but I needn’t have worried because the leopard was far too wily to be caught that way.
                Two more ghastly nights passed and then I had another visitor, a Dr Jackson of
                the Tsetse Department on safari in the District. He listened sympathetically to my story
                and left his shotgun and some SSG cartridges with me and instructed me to wait until the
                leopard was pretty close and blow its b—– head off. It was good of him to leave his
                gun. George always says there are three things a man should never lend, ‘His wife, his
                gun and his dog.’ (I think in that order!)I felt quite cheered by Dr Jackson’s visit and sent
                once again for Laza last night and arranged a real show down. In the afternoon I draped
                heavy blankets over the living room windows to shut out the light of the pressure lamp
                and the four of us, Laza and his two stooges and I waited up for the leopard. When we
                guessed by her grunts that she was somewhere between the kitchen and the back door
                we all rushed out, first the boy with the panga and the lamp, next Laza with his muzzle
                loader, then me with the shotgun followed closely by the boy with the spear. What a
                farce! The lamp was our undoing. We were blinded by the light and did not even
                glimpse the leopard which made off with a derisive grunt. Laza said smugly that he knew
                it was hopeless to try and now I feel tired and discouraged too.

                This morning I sent a runner to Mbeya to order the hotel taxi for tomorrow and I
                shall go to friends in Mbeya for a day or two and then on to Tukuyu where I shall stay
                with the Eustaces until George returns from Safari.


                Mchewe 18th November 1937

                My darling Ann,

                Here we are back in our own home and how lovely it is to have Daddy back from
                safari. Thank you very much for your letter. I hope by now you have got mine telling you
                how very much I liked the beautiful tray cloth you made for my birthday. I bet there are
                not many little girls of five who can embroider as well as you do, darling. The boy,
                Matafari, washes and irons it so carefully and it looks lovely on the tea tray.

                Daddy and I had some fun last night. I was in bed and Daddy was undressing
                when we heard a funny scratching noise on the roof. I thought it was the leopard. Daddy
                quickly loaded his shotgun and ran outside. He had only his shirt on and he looked so
                funny. I grabbed the loaded revolver from the cupboard and ran after Dad in my nightie
                but after all the rush it was only your cat, Winnie, though I don’t know how she managed
                to make such a noise. We felt so silly, we laughed and laughed.

                Kate talks a lot now but in such a funny way you would laugh to her her. She
                hears the houseboys call me Memsahib so sometimes instead of calling me Mummy
                she calls me “Oompaab”. She calls the bedroom a ‘bippon’ and her little behind she
                calls her ‘sittendump’. She loves to watch Mandawi’s cattle go home along the path
                behind the kitchen. Joseph your donkey, always leads the cows. He has a lazy life now.
                I am glad you had such fun on Guy Fawkes Day. You will be sad to leave
                Plumstead but I am sure you will like going to England on the big ship with granny Kate.
                I expect you will start school when you get to England and I am sure you will find that

                God bless my dear little girl. Lots of love from Daddy and Kate,
                and Mummy

                Mchewe 18th November 1937

                Hello George Darling,

                Thank you for your lovely drawing of Daddy shooting an elephant. Daddy says
                that the only thing is that you have drawn him a bit too handsome.

                I went onto the verandah a few minutes ago to pick a banana for Kate from the
                bunch hanging there and a big hornet flew out and stung my elbow! There are lots of
                them around now and those stinging flies too. Kate wears thick corduroy dungarees so
                that she will not get her fat little legs bitten. She is two years old now and is a real little
                pickle. She loves running out in the rain so I have ordered a pair of red Wellingtons and a
                tiny umbrella from a Nairobi shop for her Christmas present.

                Fanny’s puppies have their eyes open now and have very sharp little teeth.
                They love to nip each other. We are keeping the fiercest little one whom we call Paddy
                but are giving the others to friends. The coffee bushes are full of lovely white flowers
                and the bees and ants are very busy stealing their honey.

                Yesterday a troop of baboons came down the hill and Dad shot a big one to
                scare the others off. They are a nuisance because they steal the maize and potatoes
                from the native shambas and then there is not enough food for the totos.
                Dad and I are very proud of you for not making a fuss when you went to the
                dentist to have that tooth out.

                Bye bye, my fine little son.
                Three bags full of love from Kate, Dad and Mummy.

                Mchewe 12th February, 1938

                Dearest Family,

                here is some news that will please you. George has been offered and has
                accepted a job as Forester at Mbulu in the Northern Province of Tanganyika. George
                would have preferred a job as Game Ranger, but though the Game Warden, Philip
                Teare, is most anxious to have him in the Game Department, there is no vacancy at
                present. Anyway if one crops up later, George can always transfer from one
                Government Department to another. Poor George, he hates the idea of taking a job. He
                says that hitherto he has always been his own master and he detests the thought of
                being pushed around by anyone.

                Now however he has no choice. Our capitol is almost exhausted and the coffee
                market shows no signs of improving. With three children and another on the way, he
                feels he simply must have a fixed income. I shall be sad to leave this little farm. I love
                our little home and we have been so very happy here, but my heart rejoices at the
                thought of overseas leave every thirty months. Now we shall be able to fetch Ann and
                George from England and in three years time we will all be together in Tanganyika once

                There is no sale for farms so we will just shut the house and keep on a very small
                labour force just to keep the farm from going derelict. We are eating our hens but will
                take our two dogs, Fanny and Paddy with us.

                One thing I shall be glad to leave is that leopard. She still comes grunting around
                at night but not as badly as she did before. I do not mind at all when George is here but
                until George was accepted for this forestry job I was afraid he might go back to the
                Diggings and I should once more be left alone to be cursed by the leopard’s attentions.
                Knowing how much I dreaded this George was most anxious to shoot the leopard and
                for weeks he kept his shotgun and a powerful torch handy at night.

                One night last week we woke to hear it grunting near the kitchen. We got up very
                quietly and whilst George loaded the shotgun with SSG, I took the torch and got the
                heavy revolver from the cupboard. We crept out onto the dark verandah where George
                whispered to me to not switch on the torch until he had located the leopard. It was pitch
                black outside so all he could do was listen intently. And then of course I spoilt all his
                plans. I trod on the dog’s tin bowl and made a terrific clatter! George ordered me to
                switch on the light but it was too late and the leopard vanished into the long grass of the
                Kalonga, grunting derisively, or so it sounded.

                She never comes into the clearing now but grunts from the hillside just above it.


                Mbulu 18th March, 1938

                Dearest Family,

                Journeys end at last. here we are at Mbulu, installed in our new quarters which are
                as different as they possibly could be from our own cosy little home at Mchewe. We
                live now, my dears, in one wing of a sort of ‘Beau Geste’ fort but I’ll tell you more about
                it in my next letter. We only arrived yesterday and have not had time to look around.
                This letter will tell you just about our trip from Mbeya.

                We left the farm in our little red Ford two seater with all our portable goods and
                chattels plus two native servants and the two dogs. Before driving off, George took one
                look at the flattened springs and declared that he would be surprised if we reached
                Mbeya without a breakdown and that we would never make Mbulu with the car so

                However luck was with us. We reached Mbeya without mishap and at one of the
                local garages saw a sturdy used Ford V8 boxbody car for sale. The garage agreed to
                take our small car as part payment and George drew on our little remaining capitol for the
                rest. We spent that night in the house of the Forest Officer and next morning set out in
                comfort for the Northern Province of Tanganyika.

                I had done the journey from Dodoma to Mbeya seven years before so was
                familiar with the scenery but the road was much improved and the old pole bridges had
                been replaced by modern steel ones. Kate was as good as gold all the way. We
                avoided hotels and camped by the road and she found this great fun.
                The road beyond Dodoma was new to me and very interesting country, flat and
                dry and dusty, as little rain falls there. The trees are mostly thorn trees but here and there
                one sees a giant baobab, weird trees with fantastically thick trunks and fat squat branches
                with meagre foliage. The inhabitants of this area I found interesting though. They are
                called Wagogo and are a primitive people who ape the Masai in dress and customs
                though they are much inferior to the Masai in physique. They are also great herders of
                cattle which, rather surprisingly, appear to thrive in that dry area.

                The scenery alters greatly as one nears Babati, which one approaches by a high
                escarpment from which one has a wonderful view of the Rift Valley. Babati township
                appears to be just a small group of Indian shops and shabby native houses, but I
                believe there are some good farms in the area. Though the little township is squalid,
                there is a beautiful lake and grand mountains to please the eye. We stopped only long
                enough to fill up with petrol and buy some foodstuffs. Beyond Babati there is a tsetse
                fly belt and George warned our two native servants to see that no tsetse flies settled on
                the dogs.

                We stopped for the night in a little rest house on the road about 80 miles from
                Arusha where we were to spend a few days with the Forest Officer before going on to
                Mbulu. I enjoyed this section of the road very much because it runs across wide plains
                which are bounded on the West by the blue mountains of the Rift Valley wall. Here for
                the first time I saw the Masai on their home ground guarding their vast herds of cattle. I
                also saw their strange primitive hovels called Manyattas, with their thorn walled cattle
                bomas and lots of plains game – giraffe, wildebeest, ostriches and antelope. Kate was
                wildly excited and entranced with the game especially the giraffe which stood gazing
                curiously and unafraid of us, often within a few yards of the road.

                Finally we came across the greatest thrill of all, my first view of Mt Meru the extinct
                volcano about 16,000 feet high which towers over Arusha township. The approach to
                Arusha is through flourishing coffee plantations very different alas from our farm at Mchewe. George says that at Arusha coffee growing is still a paying proposition
                because here the yield of berry per acre is much higher than in the Southern highlands
                and here in the North the farmers have not such heavy transport costs as the railway runs
                from Arusha to the port at Tanga.

                We stayed overnight at a rather second rate hotel but the food was good and we
                had hot baths and a good nights rest. Next day Tom Lewis the Forest Officer, fetched
                us and we spent a few days camping in a tent in the Lewis’ garden having meals at their
                home. Both Tom and Lillian Lewis were most friendly. Tom lewis explained to George
                what his work in the Mbulu District was to be, and they took us camping in a Forest
                Reserve where Lillian and her small son David and Kate and I had a lovely lazy time
                amidst beautiful surroundings. Before we left for Mbulu, Lillian took me shopping to buy
                material for curtains for our new home. She described the Forest House at Mbulu to me
                and it sounded delightful but alas, when we reached Mbulu we discovered that the
                Assistant District Officer had moved into the Forest House and we were directed to the
                Fort or Boma. The night before we left Arusha for Mbulu it rained very heavily and the
                road was very treacherous and slippery due to the surface being of ‘black cotton’ soil
                which has the appearance and consistency of chocolate blancmange, after rain. To get to
                Mbulu we had to drive back in the direction of Dodoma for some 70 miles and then turn
                to the right and drive across plains to the Great Rift Valley Wall. The views from this
                escarpment road which climbs this wall are magnificent. At one point one looks down
                upon Lake Manyara with its brilliant white beaches of soda.

                The drive was a most trying one for George. We had no chains for the wheels
                and several times we stuck in the mud and our two houseboys had to put grass and
                branches under the wheels to stop them from spinning. Quite early on in the afternoon
                George gave up all hope of reaching Mbulu that day and planned to spend the night in
                a little bush rest camp at Karatu. However at one point it looked as though we would not
                even reach this resthouse for late afternoon found us properly bogged down in a mess
                of mud at the bottom of a long and very steep hill. In spite of frantic efforts on the part of
                George and the two boys, all now very wet and muddy, the heavy car remained stuck.
                Suddenly five Masai men appeared through the bushes beside the road. They
                were all tall and angular and rather terrifying looking to me. Each wore only a blanket
                knotted over one shoulder and all were armed with spears. They lined up by the side of
                the road and just looked – not hostile but simply aloof and supercilious. George greeted
                them and said in Ki-Swahili, “Help to push and I will reward you.” But they said nothing,
                just drawing back imperceptibly to register disgust at the mere idea of manual labour.
                Their expressions said quite clearly “A Masai is a warrior and does not soil his hands.”
                George then did something which startled them I think, as much as me. He
                plucked their spears from their hands one by one and flung them into the back of the
                boxbody. “Now push!” he said, “And when we are safely out of the mud you shall have
                your spears back.” To my utter astonishment the Masai seemed to applaud George’s
                action. I think they admire courage in a man more than anything else. They pushed with a
                will and soon we were roaring up the long steep slope. “I can’t stop here” quoth George
                as up and up we went. The Masai were in mad pursuit with their blankets streaming
                behind. They took a very steep path which was a shortcut to the top. They are certainly
                amazing athletes and reached the top at the same time as the car. Their route of course
                was shorter but much more steep, yet they came up without any sign of fatigue to claim
                their spears and the money which George handed out with a friendly grin. The Masai
                took the whole episode in good heart and we parted on the most friendly terms.

                After a rather chilly night in the three walled shack, we started on the last lap of our
                journey yesterday morning in bright weather and made the trip to Mbulu without incident.


                Mbulu 24th March, 1938

                Dearest Family,

                Mbulu is an attractive station but living in this rather romantic looking fort has many
                disadvantages. Our quarters make up one side of the fort which is built up around a
                hollow square. The buildings are single storied but very tall in the German manner and
                there is a tower on one corner from which the Union Jack flies. The tower room is our
                sitting room, and one has very fine views from the windows of the rolling country side.
                However to reach this room one has to climb a steep flight of cement steps from the
                court yard. Another disadvantage of this tower room is that there is a swarm of bees in
                the roof and the stray ones drift down through holes in the ceiling and buzz angrily
                against the window panes or fly around in a most menacing manner.

                Ours are the only private quarters in the Fort. Two other sides of the Fort are
                used as offices, storerooms and court room and the fourth side is simply a thick wall with
                battlements and loopholes and a huge iron shod double door of enormous thickness
                which is always barred at sunset when the flag is hauled down. Two Police Askari always
                remain in the Fort on guard at night. The effect from outside the whitewashed fort is very
                romantic but inside it is hardly homely and how I miss my garden at Mchewe and the
                grass and trees.

                We have no privacy downstairs because our windows overlook the bare
                courtyard which is filled with Africans patiently waiting to be admitted to the courtroom as
                witnesses or spectators. The outside windows which overlook the valley are heavily
                barred. I can only think that the Germans who built this fort must have been very scared
                of the local natives.

                Our rooms are hardly cosy and are furnished with typical heavy German pieces.
                We have a vast bleak bedroom, a dining room and an enormous gloomy kitchen in
                which meals for the German garrison were cooked. At night this kitchen is alive with
                gigantic rats but fortunately they do not seem to care for the other rooms. To crown
                everything owls hoot and screech at night on the roof.

                On our first day here I wandered outside the fort walls with Kate and came upon a
                neatly fenced plot enclosing the graves of about fifteen South African soldiers killed by
                the Germans in the 1914-18 war. I understand that at least one of theses soldiers died in
                the courtyard here. The story goes, that during the period in the Great War when this fort
                was occupied by a troop of South African Horse, a German named Siedtendorf
                appeared at the great barred door at night and asked to speak to the officer in command
                of the Troop. The officer complied with this request and the small shutter in the door was
                opened so that he could speak with the German. The German, however, had not come
                to speak. When he saw the exposed face of the officer, he fired, killing him, and
                escaped into the dark night. I had this tale on good authority but cannot vouch for it. I do
                know though, that there are two bullet holes in the door beside the shutter. An unhappy
                story to think about when George is away, as he is now, and the moonlight throws queer
                shadows in the court yard and the owls hoot.

                However though I find our quarters depressing, I like Mbulu itself very much. It is
                rolling country, treeless except for the plantations of the Forestry Dept. The land is very
                fertile in the watered valleys but the grass on hills and plains is cropped to the roots by
                the far too numerous cattle and goats. There are very few Europeans on the station, only
                Mr Duncan, the District Officer, whose wife and children recently left for England, the
                Assistant District Officer and his wife, a bachelor Veterinary Officer, a Road Foreman and
                ourselves, and down in the village a German with an American wife and an elderly
                Irishman whom I have not met. The Government officials have a communal vegetable
                garden in the valley below the fort which keeps us well supplied with green stuff. 

                Most afternoons George, Kate and I go for walks after tea. On Fridays there is a
                little ceremony here outside the fort. In the late afternoon a little procession of small
                native schoolboys, headed by a drum and penny whistle band come marching up the
                road to a tune which sounds like ‘Two lovely black eyes”. They form up below our tower
                and as the flag is lowered for the day they play ‘God save the King’, and then march off
                again. It is quite a cheerful little ceremony.

                The local Africans are a skinny lot and, I should say, a poor tribe. They protect
                themselves against the cold by wrapping themselves in cotton blankets or a strip of
                unbleached sheeting. This they drape over their heads, almost covering their faces and
                the rest is wrapped closely round their bodies in the manner of a shroud. A most
                depressing fashion. They live in very primitive comfortless houses. They simply make a
                hollow in the hillside and build a front wall of wattle and daub. Into this rude shelter at night
                go cattle and goats, men, women, and children.

                Mbulu village has the usual mud brick and wattle dukas and wattle and daub
                houses. The chief trader is a Goan who keeps a surprisingly good variety of tinned
                foodstuffs and also sells hardware and soft goods.

                The Europeans here have been friendly but as you will have noted there are
                only two other women on station and no children at all to be companions for Kate.


                Mbulu 20th June 1938

                Dearest Family,

                Here we are on Safari with George at Babati where we are occupying a rest
                house on the slopes of Ufiome Mountain. The slopes are a Forest Reserve and
                George is supervising the clearing of firebreaks in preparation for the dry weather. He
                goes off after a very early breakfast and returns home in the late afternoon so Kate and I
                have long lazy days.

                Babati is a pleasant spot and the resthouse is quite comfortable. It is about a mile
                from the village which is just the usual collection of small mud brick and corrugated iron
                Indian Dukas. There are a few settlers in the area growing coffee, or going in for mixed
                farming but I don’t think they are doing very well. The farm adjoining the rest house is
                owned by Lord Lovelace but is run by a manager.

                George says he gets enough exercise clambering about all day on the mountain,
                so Kate and I do our walking in the mornings when George is busy, and we all relax in
                the evenings when George returns from his field work. Kate’s favourite walk is to the big
                block of mtama (sorghum) shambas lower down the hill. There are huge swarms of tiny
                grain eating birds around waiting the chance to plunder the mtama, so the crops are
                watched from sunrise to sunset.

                Crude observation platforms have been erected for this purpose in the centre of
                each field and the women and the young boys of the family concerned, take it in turn to
                occupy the platform and scare the birds. Each watcher has a sling and uses clods of
                earth for ammunition. The clod is placed in the centre of the sling which is then whirled
                around at arms length. Suddenly one end of the sling is released and the clod of earth
                flies out and shatters against the mtama stalks. The sling makes a loud whip like crack and
                the noise is quite startling and very effective in keeping the birds at a safe distance.


                Karatu 3rd July 1938

                Dearest Family,

                Still on safari you see! We left Babati ten days ago and passed through Mbulu
                on our way to this spot. We slept out of doors one night beside Lake Tiawa about eight
                miles from Mbulu. It was a peaceful spot and we enjoyed watching the reflection of the
                sunset on the lake and the waterhens and duck and pelicans settling down for the night.
                However it turned piercingly cold after sunset so we had an early supper and then all
                three of us lay down to sleep in the back of the boxbody (station wagon). It was a tight
                fit and a real case of ‘When Dad turns, we all turn.’

                Here at Karatu we are living in a grass hut with only three walls. It is rather sweet
                and looks like the setting for a Nativity Play. Kate and I share the only camp bed and
                George and the dogs sleep on the floor. The air here is very fresh and exhilarating and
                we all feel very fit. George is occupied all day supervising the cutting of firebreaks
                around existing plantations and the forest reserve of indigenous trees. Our camp is on
                the hillside and below us lie the fertile wheat lands of European farmers.

                They are mostly Afrikaners, the descendants of the Boer families who were
                invited by the Germans to settle here after the Boer War. Most of them are pro-British
                now and a few have called in here to chat to George about big game hunting. George
                gets on extremely well with them and recently attended a wedding where he had a
                lively time dancing at the reception. He likes the older people best as most are great
                individualists. One fine old man, surnamed von Rooyen, visited our camp. He is a Boer
                of the General Smuts type with spare figure and bearded face. George tells me he is a
                real patriarch with an enormous family – mainly sons. This old farmer fought against the
                British throughout the Boer War under General Smuts and again against the British in the
                German East Africa campaign when he was a scout and right hand man to Von Lettow. It
                is said that Von Lettow was able to stay in the field until the end of the Great War
                because he listened to the advise given to him by von Rooyen. However his dislike for
                the British does not extend to George as they have a mutual interest in big game

                Kate loves being on safari. She is now so accustomed to having me as her nurse
                and constant companion that I do not know how she will react to paid help. I shall have to
                get someone to look after her during my confinement in the little German Red Cross
                hospital at Oldeani.

                George has obtained permission from the District Commissioner, for Kate and
                me to occupy the Government Rest House at Oldeani from the end of July until the end
                of August when my baby is due. He will have to carry on with his field work but will join
                us at weekends whenever possible.


                Karatu 12th July 1938

                Dearest Family,

                Not long now before we leave this camp. We have greatly enjoyed our stay
                here in spite of the very chilly earl mornings and the nights when we sit around in heavy
                overcoats until our early bed time.

                Last Sunday I persuaded George to take Kate and me to the famous Ngoro-
                Ngoro Crater. He was not very keen to do so because the road is very bumpy for
                anyone in my interesting condition but I feel so fit that I was most anxious to take this
                opportunity of seeing the enormous crater. We may never be in this vicinity again and in
                any case safari will not be so simple with a small baby.

                What a wonderful trip it was! The road winds up a steep escarpment from which
                one gets a glorious birds eye view of the plains of the Great Rift Valley far, far below.
                The crater is immense. There is a road which skirts the rim in places and one has quite
                startling views of the floor of the crater about two thousand feet below.

                A camp for tourists has just been built in a clearing in the virgin forest. It is most
                picturesque as the camp buildings are very neatly constructed log cabins with very high
                pitched thatched roofs. We spent about an hour sitting on the grass near the edge of the
                crater enjoying the sunshine and the sharp air and really awe inspiring view. Far below us
                in the middle of the crater was a small lake and we could see large herds of game
                animals grazing there but they were too far away to be impressive, even seen through
                George’s field glasses. Most appeared to be wildebeest and zebra but I also picked
                out buffalo. Much more exciting was my first close view of a wild elephant. George
                pointed him out to me as we approached the rest camp on the inward journey. He
                stood quietly under a tree near the road and did not seem to be disturbed by the car
                though he rolled a wary eye in our direction. On our return journey we saw him again at
                almost uncomfortably close quarters. We rounded a sharp corner and there stood the
                elephant, facing us and slap in the middle of the road. He was busily engaged giving
                himself a dust bath but spared time to give us an irritable look. Fortunately we were on a
                slight slope so George quickly switched off the engine and backed the car quietly round
                the corner. He got out of the car and loaded his rifle, just in case! But after he had finished
                his toilet the elephant moved off the road and we took our chance and passed without

                One notices the steepness of the Ngoro-Ngoro road more on the downward
                journey than on the way up. The road is cut into the side of the mountain so that one has
                a steep slope on one hand and a sheer drop on the other. George told me that a lorry
                coming down the mountain was once charged from behind by a rhino. On feeling and
                hearing the bash from behind the panic stricken driver drove off down the mountain as
                fast as he dared and never paused until he reached level ground at the bottom of the
                mountain. There was no sign of the rhino so the driver got out to examine his lorry and
                found the rhino horn embedded in the wooden tail end of the lorry. The horn had been
                wrenched right off!

                Happily no excitement of that kind happened to us. I have yet to see a rhino.


                Oldeani. 19th July 1938

                Dearest Family,

                Greetings from a lady in waiting! Kate and I have settled down comfortably in the
                new, solidly built Government Rest House which comprises one large living room and
                one large office with a connecting door. Outside there is a kitchen and a boys quarter.
                There are no resident Government officials here at Oldeani so the office is in use only
                when the District Officer from Mbulu makes his monthly visit. However a large Union
                Jack flies from a flagpole in the front of the building as a gentle reminder to the entirely
                German population of Oldeani that Tanganyika is now under British rule.

                There is quite a large community of German settlers here, most of whom are
                engaged in coffee farming. George has visited several of the farms in connection with his
                forestry work and says the coffee plantations look very promising indeed. There are also
                a few German traders in the village and there is a large boarding school for German
                children and also a very pleasant little hospital where I have arranged to have the baby.
                Right next door to the Rest House is a General Dealers Store run by a couple named
                Schnabbe. The shop is stocked with drapery, hardware, china and foodstuffs all
                imported from Germany and of very good quality. The Schnabbes also sell local farm
                produce, beautiful fresh vegetables, eggs and pure rich milk and farm butter. Our meat
                comes from a German butchery and it is a great treat to get clean, well cut meat. The
                sausages also are marvellous and in great variety.

                The butcher is an entertaining character. When he called round looking for custom I
                expected him to break out in a yodel any minute, as it was obvious from a glance that
                the Alps are his natural background. From under a green Tyrollean hat with feather,
                blooms a round beefy face with sparkling small eyes and such widely spaced teeth that
                one inevitably thinks of a garden rake. Enormous beefy thighs bulge from greasy
                lederhosen which are supported by the traditional embroidered braces. So far the
                butcher is the only cheery German, male or female, whom I have seen, and I have met
                most of the locals at the Schnabbe’s shop. Most of the men seem to have cultivated
                the grim Hitler look. They are all fanatical Nazis and one is usually greeted by a raised
                hand and Heil Hitler! All very theatrical. I always feel like crying in ringing tones ‘God
                Save the King’ or even ‘St George for England’. However the men are all very correct
                and courteous and the women friendly. The women all admire Kate and cry, “Ag, das
                kleine Englander.” She really is a picture with her rosy cheeks and huge grey eyes and
                golden curls. Kate is having a wonderful time playing with Manfried, the Scnabbe’s small
                son. Neither understands a word said by the other but that doesn’t seem to worry them.

                Before he left on safari, George took me to hospital for an examination by the
                nurse, Sister Marianne. She has not been long in the country and knows very little
                English but is determined to learn and carried on an animated, if rather quaint,
                conversation with frequent references to a pocket dictionary. She says I am not to worry
                because there is not doctor here. She is a very experienced midwife and anyway in an
                emergency could call on the old retired Veterinary Surgeon for assistance.
                I asked sister Marianne whether she knew of any German woman or girl who
                would look after Kate whilst I am in hospital and today a very top drawer German,
                bearing a strong likeness to ‘Little Willie’, called and offered the services of his niece who
                is here on a visit from Germany. I was rather taken aback and said, “Oh no Baron, your
                niece would not be the type I had in mind. I’m afraid I cannot pay much for a companion.”
                However the Baron was not to be discouraged. He told me that his niece is seventeen
                but looks twenty, that she is well educated and will make a cheerful companion. Her
                father wishes her to learn to speak English fluently and that is why the Baron wished her
                to come to me as a house daughter. As to pay, a couple of pounds a month for pocket
                money and her keep was all he had in mind. So with some misgivings I agreed to take
                the niece on as a companion as from 1st August.


                Oldeani. 10th August 1938

                Dearest Family,

                Never a dull moment since my young companion arrived. She is a striking looking
                girl with a tall boyish figure and very short and very fine dark hair which she wears
                severely slicked back. She wears tweeds, no make up but has shiny rosy cheeks and
                perfect teeth – she also,inevitably, has a man friend and I have an uncomfortable
                suspicion that it is because of him that she was planted upon me. Upon second
                thoughts though, maybe it was because of her excessive vitality, or even because of
                her healthy appetite! The Baroness, I hear is in poor health and I can imagine that such
                abundant health and spirit must have been quite overpowering. The name is Ingeborg,
                but she is called Mouche, which I believe means Mouse. Someone in her family must
                have a sense of humour.

                Her English only needed practice and she now chatters fluently so that I know her
                background and views on life. Mouche’s father is a personal friend of Goering. He was
                once a big noise in the German Airforce but is now connected with the car industry and
                travels frequently and intensively in Europe and America on business. Mouche showed
                me some snap shots of her family and I must say they look prosperous and charming.
                Mouche tells me that her father wants her to learn to speak English fluently so that
                she can get a job with some British diplomat in Cairo. I had immediate thought that I
                might be nursing a future Mata Hari in my bosom, but this was immediately extinguished
                when Mouche remarked that her father would like her to marry an Englishman. However
                it seems that the mere idea revolts her. “Englishmen are degenerates who swill whisky
                all day.” I pointed out that she had met George, who was a true blue Englishman, but
                was nevertheless a fine physical specimen and certainly didn’t drink all day. Mouche
                replied that George is not an Englishman but a hunter, as though that set him apart.
                Mouche is an ardent Hitler fan and an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth
                Movement. The house resounds with Hitler youth songs and when she is not singing,
                her gramophone is playing very stirring marching songs. I cannot understand a word,
                which is perhaps as well. Every day she does the most strenuous exercises watched
                with envy by me as my proportions are now those of a circus Big Top. Mouche eats a
                fantastic amount of meat and I feel it is a blessing that she is much admired by our
                Tyrollean butcher who now delivers our meat in person and adds as a token of his
                admiration some extra sausages for Mouche.

                I must confess I find her stimulating company as George is on safari most of the
                time and my evenings otherwise would be lonely. I am a little worried though about
                leaving Kate here with Mouche when I go to hospital. The dogs and Kate have not taken
                to her. I am trying to prepare Kate for the separation but she says, “She’s not my
                mummy. You are my dear mummy, and I want you, I want you.” George has got
                permission from the Provincial Forestry Officer to spend the last week of August here at
                the Rest House with me and I only hope that the baby will be born during that time.
                Kate adores her dad and will be perfectly happy to remain here with him.

                One final paragraph about Mouche. I thought all German girls were domesticated
                but not Mouche. I have Kesho-Kutwa here with me as cook and I have engaged a local
                boy to do the laundry. I however expected Mouche would take over making the
                puddings and pastry but she informed me that she can only bake a chocolate cake and
                absolutely nothing else. She said brightly however that she would do the mending. As
                there is none for her to do, she has rescued a large worn handkerchief of George’s and
                sits with her feet up listening to stirring gramophone records whilst she mends the
                handkerchief with exquisite darning.


                Oldeani. 20th August 1938

                Dearest Family,

                Just after I had posted my last letter I received what George calls a demi official
                letter from the District Officer informing me that I would have to move out of the Rest
                House for a few days as the Governor and his hangers on would be visiting Oldeani
                and would require the Rest House. Fortunately George happened to be here for a few
                hours and he arranged for Kate and Mouche and me to spend a few days at the
                German School as borders. So here I am at the school having a pleasant and restful
                time and much entertained by all the goings on.

                The school buildings were built with funds from Germany and the school is run on
                the lines of a contemporary German school. I think the school gets a grant from the
                Tanganyika Government towards running expenses, but I am not sure. The school hall is
                dominated by a more than life sized oil painting of Adolf Hitler which, at present, is
                flanked on one side by the German Flag and on the other by the Union Jack. I cannot
                help feeling that the latter was put up today for the Governor’s visit today.
                The teachers are very amiable. We all meet at mealtimes, and though few of the
                teachers speak English, the ones who do are anxious to chatter. The headmaster is a
                scholarly man but obviously anti-British. He says he cannot understand why so many
                South Africans are loyal to Britain – or rather to England. “They conquered your country
                didn’t they?” I said that that had never occurred to me and that anyway I was mainly of
                Scots descent and that loyalty to the crown was natural to me. “But the English
                conquered the Scots and yet you are loyal to England. That I cannot understand.” “Well I
                love England,” said I firmly, ”and so do all British South Africans.” Since then we have
                stuck to English literature. Shakespeare, Lord Byron and Galsworthy seem to be the
                favourites and all, thank goodness, make safe topics for conversation.
                Mouche is in her element but Kate and I do not enjoy the food which is typically
                German and consists largely of masses of fat pork and sauerkraut and unfamiliar soups. I
                feel sure that the soup at lunch today had blobs of lemon curd in it! I also find most
                disconcerting the way that everyone looks at me and says, “Bon appetite”, with much
                smiling and nodding so I have to fight down my nausea and make a show of enjoying
                the meals.

                The teacher whose room adjoins mine is a pleasant woman and I take my
                afternoon tea with her. She, like all the teachers, has a large framed photo of Hitler on her
                wall flanked by bracket vases of fresh flowers. One simply can’t get away from the man!
                Even in the dormitories each child has a picture of Hitler above the bed. Hitler accepting
                flowers from a small girl, or patting a small boy on the head. Even the children use the
                greeting ‘Heil Hitler’. These German children seem unnaturally prim when compared with
                my cheerful ex-pupils in South Africa but some of them are certainly very lovely to look

                Tomorrow Mouche, Kate and I return to our quarters in the Rest House and in a
                few days George will join us for a week.


                Oldeani Hospital. 9th September 1938

                Dearest Family,

                You will all be delighted to hear that we have a second son, whom we have
                named John. He is a darling, so quaint and good. He looks just like a little old man with a
                high bald forehead fringed around the edges with a light brown fluff. George and I call
                him Johnny Jo because he has a tiny round mouth and a rather big nose and reminds us
                of A.A.Milne’s ‘Jonathan Jo has a mouth like an O’ , but Kate calls him, ‘My brother John’.
                George was not here when he was born on September 5th, just two minutes
                before midnight. He left on safari on the morning of the 4th and, of course, that very night
                the labour pains started. Fortunately Kate was in bed asleep so Mouche walked with
                me up the hill to the hospital where I was cheerfully received by Sister Marianne who
                had everything ready for the confinement. I was lucky to have such an experienced
                midwife because this was a breech birth and sister had to manage single handed. As
                there was no doctor present I was not allowed even a sniff of anaesthetic. Sister slaved
                away by the light of a pressure lamp endeavouring to turn the baby having first shoved
                an inverted baby bath under my hips to raise them.

                What a performance! Sister Marianne was very much afraid that she might not be
                able to save the baby and great was our relief when at last she managed to haul him out
                by the feet. One slap and the baby began to cry without any further attention so Sister
                wrapped him up in a blanket and took Johnny to her room for the night. I got very little
                sleep but was so thankful to have the ordeal over that I did not mind even though I
                heard a hyaena cackling and calling under my window in a most evil way.
                When Sister brought Johnny to me in the early morning I stared in astonishment.
                Instead of dressing him in one of his soft Viyella nighties, she had dressed him in a short
                sleeved vest of knitted cotton with a cotton cloth swayed around his waist sarong
                fashion. When I protested, “But Sister why is the baby not dressed in his own clothes?”
                She answered firmly, “I find it is not allowed. A baby’s clotheses must be boiled and I
                cannot boil clotheses of wool therefore your baby must wear the clotheses of the Red

                It was the same with the bedding. Poor Johnny lies all day in a deep wicker
                basket with a detachable calico lining. There is no pillow under his head but a vast kind of
                calico covered pillow is his only covering. There is nothing at all cosy and soft round my
                poor baby. I said crossly to the Sister, “As every thing must be so sterile, I wonder you
                don’t boil me too.” This she ignored.

                When my message reached George he dashed back to visit us. Sister took him
                first to see the baby and George was astonished to see the baby basket covered by a
                sheet. “She has the poor little kid covered up like a bloody parrot,” he told me. So I
                asked him to go at once to buy a square of mosquito netting to replace the sheet.
                Kate is quite a problem. She behaves like an Angel when she is here in my
                room but is rebellious when Sister shoos her out. She says she “Hates the Nanny”
                which is what she calls Mouche. Unfortunately it seems that she woke before midnight
                on the night Johnny Jo was born to find me gone and Mouche in my bed. According to
                Mouche, Kate wept all night and certainly when she visited me in the early morning
                Kate’s face was puffy with crying and she clung to me crying “Oh my dear mummy, why
                did you go away?” over and over again. Sister Marianne was touched and suggested
                that Mouche and Kate should come to the hospital as boarders as I am the only patient
                at present and there is plenty of room. Luckily Kate does not seem at all jealous of the
                baby and it is a great relief to have here here under my eye.



                  From Tanganyika with Love

                  continued  ~ part 3

                  With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                  Mchewe Estate. 22nd March 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  I am feeling much better now that I am five months pregnant and have quite got
                  my appetite back. Once again I go out with “the Mchewe Hunt” which is what George
                  calls the procession made up of the donkey boy and donkey with Ann confidently riding
                  astride, me beside the donkey with Georgie behind riding the stick which he much
                  prefers to the donkey. The Alsatian pup, whom Ann for some unknown reason named
                  ‘Tubbage’, and the two cats bring up the rear though sometimes Tubbage rushes
                  ahead and nearly knocks me off my feet. He is not the loveable pet that Kelly was.
                  It is just as well that I have recovered my health because my mother-in-law has
                  decided to fly out from England to look after Ann and George when I am in hospital. I am
                  very grateful for there is no one lse to whom I can turn. Kath Hickson-Wood is seldom on
                  their farm because Hicky is working a guano claim and is making quite a good thing out of
                  selling bat guano to the coffee farmers at Mbosi. They camp out at the claim, a series of
                  caves in the hills across the valley and visit the farm only occasionally. Anne Molteno is
                  off to Cape Town to have her baby at her mothers home and there are no women in
                  Mbeya I know well. The few women are Government Officials wives and they come
                  and go. I make so few trips to the little town that there is no chance to get on really
                  friendly terms with them.

                  Janey, the ayah, is turning into a treasure. She washes and irons well and keeps
                  the children’s clothes cupboard beautifully neat. Ann and George however are still
                  reluctant to go for walks with her. They find her dull because, like all African ayahs, she
                  has no imagination and cannot play with them. She should however be able to help with
                  the baby. Ann is very excited about the new baby. She so loves all little things.
                  Yesterday she went into ecstasies over ten newly hatched chicks.

                  She wants a little sister and perhaps it would be a good thing. Georgie is so very
                  active and full of mischief that I feel another wild little boy might be more than I can
                  manage. Although Ann is older, it is Georgie who always thinks up the mischief. They
                  have just been having a fight. Georgie with the cooks umbrella versus Ann with her frilly
                  pink sunshade with the inevitable result that the sunshade now has four broken ribs.
                  Any way I never feel lonely now during the long hours George is busy on the
                  shamba. The children keep me on my toes and I have plenty of sewing to do for the
                  baby. George is very good about amusing the children before their bedtime and on
                  Sundays. In the afternoons when it is not wet I take Ann and Georgie for a walk down
                  the hill. George meets us at the bottom and helps me on the homeward journey. He
                  grabs one child in each hand by the slack of their dungarees and they do a sort of giant
                  stride up the hill, half walking half riding.

                  Very much love,

                  Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  A great flap here. We had a letter yesterday to say that mother-in-law will be
                  arriving in four days time! George is very amused at my frantic efforts at spring cleaning
                  but he has told me before that she is very house proud so I feel I must make the best
                  of what we have.

                  George is very busy building a store for the coffee which will soon be ripening.
                  This time he is doing the bricklaying himself. It is quite a big building on the far end of the
                  farm and close to the river. He is also making trays of chicken wire nailed to wooden
                  frames with cheap calico stretched over the wire.

                  Mother will have to sleep in the verandah room which leads off the bedroom
                  which we share with the children. George will have to sleep in the outside spare room as
                  there is no door between the bedroom and the verandah room. I am sewing frantically
                  to make rose coloured curtains and bedspread out of material mother-in-law sent for
                  Christmas and will have to make a curtain for the doorway. The kitchen badly needs
                  whitewashing but George says he cannot spare the labour so I hope mother won’t look.
                  To complicate matters, George has been invited to lunch with the Governor on the day
                  of Mother’s arrival. After lunch they are to visit the newly stocked trout streams in the
                  Mporotos. I hope he gets back to Mbeya in good time to meet mother’s plane.
                  Ann has been off colour for a week. She looks very pale and her pretty fair hair,
                  normally so shiny, is dull and lifeless. It is such a pity that mother should see her like this
                  because first impressions do count so much and I am looking to the children to attract
                  attention from me. I am the size of a circus tent and hardly a dream daughter-in-law.
                  Georgie, thank goodness, is blooming but he has suddenly developed a disgusting
                  habit of spitting on the floor in the manner of the natives. I feel he might say “Gran, look
                  how far I can spit and give an enthusiastic demonstration.

                  Just hold thumbs that all goes well.

                  your loving but anxious,

                  Mchewe Estate. 28th June 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  Mother-in-law duly arrived in the District Commissioner’s car. George did not dare
                  to use the A.C. as she is being very temperamental just now. They also brought the
                  mail bag which contained a parcel of lovely baby clothes from you. Thank you very
                  much. Mother-in-law is very put out because the large parcel she posted by surface
                  mail has not yet arrived.

                  Mother arrived looking very smart in an ankle length afternoon frock of golden
                  brown crepe and smart hat, and wearing some very good rings. She is a very
                  handsome woman with the very fair complexion that goes with red hair. The hair, once
                  Titan, must now be grey but it has been very successfully tinted and set. I of course,
                  was shapeless in a cotton maternity frock and no credit to you. However, so far, motherin-
                  law has been uncritical and friendly and charmed with the children who have taken to
                  her. Mother does not think that the children resemble me in any way. Ann resembles her
                  family the Purdys and Georgie is a Morley, her mother’s family. She says they had the
                  same dark eyes and rather full mouths. I say feebly, “But Georgie has my colouring”, but
                  mother won’t hear of it. So now you know! Ann is a Purdy and Georgie a Morley.
                  Perhaps number three will be a Leslie.

                  What a scramble I had getting ready for mother. Her little room really looks pretty
                  and fresh, but the locally woven grass mats arrived only minutes before mother did. I
                  also frantically overhauled our clothes and it a good thing that I did so because mother
                  has been going through all the cupboards looking for mending. Mother is kept so busy
                  in her own home that I think she finds time hangs on her hands here. She is very good at
                  entertaining the children and has even tried her hand at picking coffee a couple of times.
                  Mother cannot get used to the native boy servants but likes Janey, so Janey keeps her
                  room in order. Mother prefers to wash and iron her own clothes.

                  I almost lost our cook through mother’s surplus energy! Abel our previous cook
                  took a new wife last month and, as the new wife, and Janey the old, were daggers
                  drawn, Abel moved off to a job on the Lupa leaving Janey and her daughter here.
                  The new cook is capable, but he is a fearsome looking individual called Alfani. He has a
                  thick fuzz of hair which he wears long, sometimes hidden by a dingy turban, and he
                  wears big brass earrings. I think he must be part Somali because he has a hawk nose
                  and a real Brigand look. His kitchen is never really clean but he is an excellent cook and
                  as cooks are hard to come by here I just keep away from the kitchen. Not so mother!
                  A few days after her arrival she suggested kindly that I should lie down after lunch
                  so I rested with the children whilst mother, unknown to me, went out to the kitchen and
                  not only scrubbed the table and shelves but took the old iron stove to pieces and
                  cleaned that. Unfortunately in her zeal she poked a hole through the stove pipe.
                  Had I known of these activities I would have foreseen the cook’s reaction when
                  he returned that evening to cook the supper. he was furious and wished to leave on the
                  spot and demanded his wages forthwith. The old Memsahib had insulted him by
                  scrubbing his already spotless kitchen and had broken his stove and made it impossible
                  for him to cook. This tirade was accompanied by such waving of hands and rolling of
                  eyes that I longed to sack him on the spot. However I dared not as I might not get
                  another cook for weeks. So I smoothed him down and he patched up the stove pipe
                  with a bit of tin and some wire and produced a good meal. I am wondering what
                  transformations will be worked when I am in hospital.

                  Our food is really good but mother just pecks at it. No wonder really, because
                  she has had some shocks. One day she found the kitchen boy diligently scrubbing the box lavatory seat with a scrubbing brush which he dipped into one of my best large
                  saucepans! No one can foresee what these boys will do. In these remote areas house
                  servants are usually recruited from the ranks of the very primitive farm labourers, who first
                  come to the farm as naked savages, and their notions of hygiene simply don’t exist.
                  One day I said to mother in George’s presence “When we were newly married,
                  mother, George used to brag about your cooking and say that you would run a home
                  like this yourself with perhaps one ‘toto’. Mother replied tartly, “That was very bad of
                  George and not true. If my husband had brought me out here I would not have stayed a
                  month. I think you manage very well.” Which reply made me warm to mother a lot.
                  To complicate things we have a new pup, a little white bull terrier bitch whom
                  George has named Fanny. She is tiny and not yet house trained but seems a plucky
                  and attractive little animal though there is no denying that she does look like a piglet.

                  Very much love to all,

                  Mchewe Estate. 3rd August 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  Here I am in hospital, comfortably in bed with our new daughter in her basket
                  beside me. She is a lovely little thing, very plump and cuddly and pink and white and
                  her head is covered with tiny curls the colour of Golden Syrup. We meant to call her
                  Margery Kate, after our Marj and my mother-in-law whose name is Catherine.
                  I am enjoying the rest, knowing that George and mother will be coping
                  successfully on the farm. My room is full of flowers, particularly with the roses and
                  carnations which grow so well here. Kate was not due until August 5th but the doctor
                  wanted me to come in good time in view of my tiresome early pregnancy.

                  For weeks beforehand George had tinkered with the A.C. and we started for
                  Mbeya gaily enough on the twenty ninth, however, after going like a dream for a couple
                  of miles, she simply collapsed from exhaustion at the foot of a hill and all the efforts of
                  the farm boys who had been sent ahead for such an emergency failed to start her. So
                  George sent back to the farm for the machila and I sat in the shade of a tree, wondering
                  what would happen if I had the baby there and then, whilst George went on tinkering
                  with the car. Suddenly she sprang into life and we roared up that hill and all the way into
                  Mbeya. The doctor welcomed us pleasantly and we had tea with his family before I
                  settled into my room. Later he examined me and said that it was unlikely that the baby
                  would be born for several days. The new and efficient German nurse said, “Thank
                  goodness for that.” There was a man in hospital dying from a stomach cancer and she
                  had not had a decent nights sleep for three nights.

                  Kate however had other plans. I woke in the early morning with labour pains but
                  anxious not to disturb the nurse, I lay and read or tried to read a book, hoping that I
                  would not have to call the nurse until daybreak. However at four a.m., I went out into the
                  wind which was howling along the open verandah and knocked on the nurse’s door. She
                  got up and very crossly informed me that I was imagining things and should get back to
                  bed at once. She said “It cannot be so. The Doctor has said it.” I said “Of course it is,”
                  and then and there the water broke and clinched my argument. She then went into a flat
                  spin. “But the bed is not ready and my instruments are not ready,” and she flew around
                  to rectify this and also sent an African orderly to call the doctor. I paced the floor saying
                  warningly “Hurry up with that bed. I am going to have the baby now!” She shrieked
                  “Take off your dressing gown.” But I was passed caring. I flung myself on the bed and
                  there was Kate. The nurse had done all that was necessary by the time the doctor

                  A funny thing was, that whilst Kate was being born on the bed, a black cat had
                  kittens under it! The doctor was furious with the nurse but the poor thing must have crept
                  in out of the cold wind when I went to call the nurse. A happy omen I feel for the baby’s
                  future. George had no anxiety this time. He stayed at the hospital with me until ten
                  o’clock when he went down to the hotel to sleep and he received the news in a note
                  from me with his early morning tea. He went to the farm next morning but will return on
                  the sixth to fetch me home.

                  I do feel so happy. A very special husband and three lovely children. What
                  more could anyone possibly want.

                  Lots and lots of love,

                  Mchewe Estate. 20th August 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  Well here we are back at home and all is very well. The new baby is very placid
                  and so pretty. Mother is delighted with her and Ann loved her at sight but Georgie is not
                  so sure. At first he said, “Your baby is no good. Chuck her in the kalonga.” The kalonga
                  being the ravine beside the house , where, I regret to say, much of the kitchen refuse is
                  dumped. he is very jealous when I carry Kate around or feed her but is ready to admire
                  her when she is lying alone in her basket.

                  George walked all the way from the farm to fetch us home. He hired a car and
                  native driver from the hotel, but drove us home himself going with such care over ruts
                  and bumps. We had a great welcome from mother who had had the whole house
                  spring cleaned. However George loyally says it looks just as nice when I am in charge.
                  Mother obviously, had had more than enough of the back of beyond and
                  decided to stay on only one week after my return home. She had gone into the kitchen
                  one day just in time to see the houseboy scooping the custard he had spilt on the table
                  back into the jug with the side of his hand. No doubt it would have been served up
                  without a word. On another occasion she had walked in on the cook’s daily ablutions. He
                  was standing in a small bowl of water in the centre of the kitchen, absolutely naked,
                  enjoying a slipper bath. She left last Wednesday and gave us a big laugh before she
                  left. She never got over her horror of eating food prepared by our cook and used to
                  push it around her plate. Well, when the time came for mother to leave for the plane, she
                  put on the very smart frock in which she had arrived, and then came into the sitting room
                  exclaiming in dismay “Just look what has happened, I must have lost a stone!’ We
                  looked, and sure enough, the dress which had been ankle deep before, now touched
                  the floor. “Good show mother.” said George unfeelingly. “You ought to be jolly grateful,
                  you needed to lose weight and it would have cost you the earth at a beauty parlour to
                  get that sylph-like figure.”

                  When mother left she took, in a perforated matchbox, one of the frilly mantis that
                  live on our roses. She means to keep it in a goldfish bowl in her dining room at home.
                  Georgie and Ann filled another matchbox with dead flies for food for the mantis on the

                  Now that mother has left, Georgie and Ann attach themselves to me and firmly
                  refuse to have anything to do with the ayah,Janey. She in any case now wishes to have
                  a rest. Mother tipped her well and gave her several cotton frocks so I suspect she wants
                  to go back to her hometown in Northern Rhodesia to show off a bit.
                  Georgie has just sidled up with a very roguish look. He asked “You like your
                  baby?” I said “Yes indeed I do.” He said “I’ll prick your baby with a velly big thorn.”

                  Who would be a mother!

                  Mchewe Estate. 20th September 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  I have been rather in the wars with toothache and as there is still no dentist at
                  Mbeya to do the fillings, I had to have four molars extracted at the hospital. George
                  says it is fascinating to watch me at mealtimes these days because there is such a gleam
                  of satisfaction in my eye when I do manage to get two teeth to meet on a mouthful.
                  About those scissors Marj sent Ann. It was not such a good idea. First she cut off tufts of
                  George’s hair so that he now looks like a bad case of ringworm and then she cut a scalp
                  lock, a whole fist full of her own shining hair, which George so loves. George scolded
                  Ann and she burst into floods of tears. Such a thing as a scolding from her darling daddy
                  had never happened before. George immediately made a long drooping moustache
                  out of the shorn lock and soon had her smiling again. George is always very gentle with
                  Ann. One has to be , because she is frightfully sensitive to criticism.

                  I am kept pretty busy these days, Janey has left and my houseboy has been ill
                  with pneumonia. I now have to wash all the children’s things and my own, (the cook does
                  George’s clothes) and look after the three children. Believe me, I can hardly keep awake
                  for Kate’s ten o’clock feed.

                  I do hope I shall get some new servants next month because I also got George
                  to give notice to the cook. I intercepted him last week as he was storming down the hill
                  with my large kitchen knife in his hand. “Where are you going with my knife?” I asked.
                  “I’m going to kill a man!” said Alfani, rolling his eyes and looking extremely ferocious. “He
                  has taken my wife.” “Not with my knife”, said I reaching for it. So off Alfani went, bent on
                  vengeance and I returned the knife to the kitchen. Dinner was served and I made no
                  enquiries but I feel that I need someone more restful in the kitchen than our brigand

                  George has been working on the car and has now fitted yet another radiator. This
                  is a lorry one and much too tall to be covered by the A.C.’s elegant bonnet which is
                  secured by an old strap. The poor old A.C. now looks like an ancient shoe with a turned
                  up toe. It only needs me in it with the children to make a fine illustration to the old rhyme!
                  Ann and Georgie are going through a climbing phase. They practically live in
                  trees. I rushed out this morning to investigate loud screams and found Georgie hanging
                  from a fork in a tree by one ankle, whilst Ann stood below on tiptoe with hands stretched
                  upwards to support his head.

                  Do I sound as though I have straws in my hair? I have.
                  Lots of love,

                  Mchewe Estate. 11th October 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  Thank goodness! I have a new ayah name Mary. I had heard that there was a
                  good ayah out of work at Tukuyu 60 miles away so sent a messenger to fetch her. She
                  arrived after dark wearing a bright dress and a cheerful smile and looked very suitable by
                  the light of a storm lamp. I was horrified next morning to see her in daylight. She was
                  dressed all in black and had a rather sinister look. She reminds me rather of your old maid
                  Candace who overheard me laughing a few days before Ann was born and croaked
                  “Yes , Miss Eleanor, today you laugh but next week you might be dead.” Remember
                  how livid you were, dad?

                  I think Mary has the same grim philosophy. Ann took one look at her and said,
                  “What a horrible old lady, mummy.” Georgie just said “Go away”, both in English and Ki-
                  Swahili. Anyway Mary’s references are good so I shall keep her on to help with Kate
                  who is thriving and bonny and placid.

                  Thank you for the offer of toys for Christmas but, if you don’t mind, I’d rather have
                  some clothing for the children. Ann is quite contented with her dolls Barbara and Yvonne.
                  Barbara’s once beautiful face is now pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle having come
                  into contact with Georgie’s ever busy hammer. However Ann says she will love her for
                  ever and she doesn’t want another doll. Yvonne’s hay day is over too. She
                  disappeared for weeks and we think Fanny, the pup, was the culprit. Ann discovered
                  Yvonne one morning in some long wet weeds. Poor Yvonne is now a ghost of her
                  former self. All the sophisticated make up was washed off her papier-mâché face and
                  her hair is decidedly bedraggled, but Ann was radiant as she tucked her back into bed
                  and Yvonne is as precious to Ann as she ever was.

                  Georgie simply does not care for toys. His paint box, hammer and the trenching
                  hoe George gave him for his second birthday are all he wants or needs. Both children
                  love books but I sometimes wonder whether they stimulate Ann’s imagination too much.
                  The characters all become friends of hers and she makes up stories about them to tell
                  Georgie. She adores that illustrated children’s Bible Mummy sent her but you would be
                  astonished at the yarns she spins about “me and my friend Jesus.” She also will call
                  Moses “Old Noses”, and looking at a picture of Jacob’s dream, with the shining angels
                  on the ladder between heaven and earth, she said “Georgie, if you see an angel, don’t
                  touch it, it’s hot.”


                  Mchewe Estate. 17th October 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  I take back the disparaging things I said about my new Ayah, because she has
                  proved her worth in an unexpected way. On Wednesday morning I settled Kate in he
                  cot after her ten o’clock feed and sat sewing at the dining room table with Ann and
                  Georgie opposite me, both absorbed in painting pictures in identical seed catalogues.
                  Suddenly there was a terrific bang on the back door, followed by an even heavier blow.
                  The door was just behind me and I got up and opened it. There, almost filling the door
                  frame, stood a huge native with staring eyes and his teeth showing in a mad grimace. In
                  his hand he held a rolled umbrella by the ferrule, the shaft I noticed was unusually long
                  and thick and the handle was a big round knob.

                  I was terrified as you can imagine, especially as, through the gap under the
                  native’s raised arm, I could see the new cook and the kitchen boy running away down to
                  the shamba! I hastily tried to shut and lock the door but the man just brushed me aside.
                  For a moment he stood over me with the umbrella raised as though to strike. Rather
                  fortunately, I now think, I was too petrified to say a word. The children never moved but
                  Tubbage, the Alsatian, got up and jumped out of the window!

                  Then the native turned away and still with the same fixed stare and grimace,
                  began to attack the furniture with his umbrella. Tables and chairs were overturned and
                  books and ornaments scattered on the floor. When the madman had his back turned and
                  was busily bashing the couch, I slipped round the dining room table, took Ann and
                  Georgie by the hand and fled through the front door to the garage where I hid the
                  children in the car. All this took several minutes because naturally the children were
                  terrified. I was worried to death about the baby left alone in the bedroom and as soon
                  as I had Ann and Georgie settled I ran back to the house.

                  I reached the now open front door just as Kianda the houseboy opened the back
                  door of the lounge. He had been away at the river washing clothes but, on hearing of the
                  madman from the kitchen boy he had armed himself with a stout stick and very pluckily,
                  because he is not a robust boy, had returned to the house to eject the intruder. He
                  rushed to attack immediately and I heard a terrific exchange of blows behind me as I
                  opened our bedroom door. You can imagine what my feelings were when I was
                  confronted by an empty cot! Just then there was an uproar inside as all the farm
                  labourers armed with hoes and pangas and sticks, streamed into the living room from the
                  shamba whence they had been summoned by the cook. In no time at all the huge
                  native was hustled out of the house, flung down the front steps, and securely tied up
                  with strips of cloth.

                  In the lull that followed I heard a frightened voice calling from the bathroom.
                  ”Memsahib is that you? The child is here with me.” I hastily opened the bathroom door
                  to find Mary couched in a corner by the bath, shielding Kate with her body. Mary had
                  seen the big native enter the house and her first thought had been for her charge. I
                  thanked her and promised her a reward for her loyalty, and quickly returned to the garage
                  to reassure Ann and Georgie. I met George who looked white and exhausted as well
                  he might having run up hill all the way from the coffee store. The kitchen boy had led him
                  to expect the worst and he was most relieved to find us all unhurt if a bit shaken.
                  We returned to the house by the back way whilst George went to the front and
                  ordered our labourers to take their prisoner and lock him up in the store. George then
                  discussed the whole affair with his Headman and all the labourers after which he reported
                  to me. “The boys say that the bastard is an ex-Askari from Nyasaland. He is not mad as
                  you thought but he smokes bhang and has these attacks. I suppose I should take him to
                  Mbeya and have him up in court. But if I do that you’ll have to give evidence and that will be a nuisance as the car won’t go and there is also the baby to consider.”

                  Eventually we decided to leave the man to sleep off the effects of the Bhang
                  until evening when he would be tried before an impromptu court consisting of George,
                  the local Jumbe(Headman) and village Elders, and our own farm boys and any other
                  interested spectators. It was not long before I knew the verdict because I heard the
                  sound of lashes. I was not sorry at all because I felt the man deserved his punishment
                  and so did all the Africans. They love children and despise anyone who harms or
                  frightens them. With great enthusiasm they frog-marched him off our land, and I sincerely
                  hope that that is the last we see or him. Ann and Georgie don’t seem to brood over this
                  affair at all. The man was naughty and he was spanked, a quite reasonable state of
                  affairs. This morning they hid away in the small thatched chicken house. This is a little brick
                  building about four feet square which Ann covets as a dolls house. They came back
                  covered in stick fleas which I had to remove with paraffin. My hens are laying well but
                  they all have the ‘gapes’! I wouldn’t run a chicken farm for anything, hens are such fussy,
                  squawking things.

                  Now don’t go worrying about my experience with the native. Such things
                  happen only once in a lifetime. We are all very well and happy, and life, apart from the
                  children’s pranks is very tranquil.

                  Lots and lots of love,

                  Mchewe Estate. 25th October 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  The hot winds have dried up the shamba alarmingly and we hope every day for
                  rain. The prices for coffee, on the London market, continue to be low and the local
                  planters are very depressed. Coffee grows well enough here but we are over 400
                  miles from the railway and transport to the railhead by lorry is very expensive. Then, as
                  there is no East African Marketing Board, the coffee must be shipped to England for
                  sale. Unless the coffee fetches at least 90 pounds a ton it simply doesn’t pay to grow it.
                  When we started planting in 1931 coffee was fetching as much as 115 pounds a ton but
                  prices this year were between 45 and 55 pounds. We have practically exhausted our
                  capitol and so have all our neighbours. The Hickson -Woods have been keeping their
                  pot boiling by selling bat guano to the coffee farmers at Mbosi but now everyone is
                  broke and there is not a market for fertilisers. They are offering their farm for sale at a very
                  low price.

                  Major Jones has got a job working on the district roads and Max Coster talks of
                  returning to his work as a geologist. George says he will have to go gold digging on the
                  Lupa unless there is a big improvement in the market. Luckily we can live quite cheaply
                  here. We have a good vegetable garden, milk is cheap and we have plenty of fruit.
                  There are mulberries, pawpaws, grenadillas, peaches, and wine berries. The wine
                  berries are very pretty but insipid though Ann and Georgie love them. Each morning,
                  before breakfast, the old garden boy brings berries for Ann and Georgie. With a thorn
                  the old man pins a large leaf from a wild fig tree into a cone which he fills with scarlet wine
                  berries. There is always a cone for each child and they wait eagerly outside for the daily
                  ceremony of presentation.

                  The rats are being a nuisance again. Both our cats, Skinny Winnie and Blackboy
                  disappeared a few weeks ago. We think they made a meal for a leopard. I wrote last
                  week to our grocer at Mbalizi asking him whether he could let us have a couple of kittens
                  as I have often seen cats in his store. The messenger returned with a nailed down box.
                  The kitchen boy was called to prize up the lid and the children stood by in eager
                  anticipation. Out jumped two snarling and spitting creatures. One rushed into the kalonga
                  and the other into the house and before they were captured they had drawn blood from
                  several boys. I told the boys to replace the cats in the box as I intended to return them
                  forthwith. They had the colouring, stripes and dispositions of wild cats and I certainly
                  didn’t want them as pets, but before the boys could replace the lid the cats escaped
                  once more into the undergrowth in the kalonga. George fetched his shotgun and said he
                  would shoot the cats on sight or they would kill our chickens. This was more easily said
                  than done because the cats could not be found. However during the night the cats
                  climbed up into the loft af the house and we could hear them moving around on the reed

                  I said to George,”Oh leave the poor things. At least they might frighten the rats
                  away.” That afternoon as we were having tea a thin stream of liquid filtered through the
                  ceiling on George’s head. Oh dear!!! That of course was the end. Some raw meat was
                  put on the lawn for bait and yesterday George shot both cats.

                  I regret to end with the sad story of Mary, heroine in my last letter and outcast in
                  this. She came to work quite drunk two days running and I simply had to get rid of her. I
                  have heard since from Kath Wood that Mary lost her last job at Tukuyu for the same
                  reason. She was ayah to twin girls and one day set their pram on fire.

                  So once again my hands are more than full with three lively children. I did say
                  didn’t I, when Ann was born that I wanted six children?

                  Very much love from us all, Eleanor.

                  Mchewe Estate. 8th November 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  To set your minds at rest I must tell you that the native who so frightened me and
                  the children is now in jail for attacking a Greek at Mbalizi. I hear he is to be sent back to
                  Rhodesia when he has finished his sentence.

                  Yesterday we had one of our rare trips to Mbeya. George managed to get a couple of
                  second hand tyres for the old car and had again got her to work so we are celebrating our
                  wedding anniversary by going on an outing. I wore the green and fawn striped silk dress
                  mother bought me and the hat and shoes you sent for my birthday and felt like a million
                  dollars, for a change. The children all wore new clothes too and I felt very proud of them.
                  Ann is still very fair and with her refined little features and straight silky hair she
                  looks like Alice in Wonderland. Georgie is dark and sturdy and looks best in khaki shirt
                  and shorts and sun helmet. Kate is a pink and gold baby and looks good enough to eat.
                  We went straight to the hotel at Mbeya and had the usual warm welcome from
                  Ken and Aunty May Menzies. Aunty May wears her hair cut short like a mans and
                  usually wears shirt and tie and riding breeches and boots. She always looks ready to go
                  on safari at a moments notice as indeed she is. She is often called out to a case of illness
                  at some remote spot.

                  There were lots of people at the hotel from farms in the district and from the
                  diggings. I met women I had not seen for four years. One, a Mrs Masters from Tukuyu,
                  said in the lounge, “My God! Last time I saw you , you were just a girl and here you are
                  now with two children.” To which I replied with pride, “There is another one in a pram on
                  the verandah if you care to look!” Great hilarity in the lounge. The people from the
                  diggings seem to have plenty of money to throw around. There was a big party on the
                  go in the bar.

                  One of our shamba boys died last Friday and all his fellow workers and our
                  house boys had the day off to attend the funeral. From what I can gather the local
                  funerals are quite cheery affairs. The corpse is dressed in his best clothes and laid
                  outside his hut and all who are interested may view the body and pay their respects.
                  The heir then calls upon anyone who had a grudge against the dead man to say his say
                  and thereafter hold his tongue forever. Then all the friends pay tribute to the dead man
                  after which he is buried to the accompaniment of what sounds from a distance, very
                  cheerful keening.

                  Most of our workmen are pagans though there is a Lutheran Mission nearby and
                  a big Roman Catholic Mission in the area too. My present cook, however, claims to be
                  a Christian. He certainly went to a mission school and can read and write and also sing
                  hymns in Ki-Swahili. When I first engaged him I used to find a large open Bible
                  prominently displayed on the kitchen table. The cook is middle aged and arrived here
                  with a sensible matronly wife. To my surprise one day he brought along a young girl,
                  very plump and giggly and announced proudly that she was his new wife, I said,”But I
                  thought you were a Christian Jeremiah? Christians don’t have two wives.” To which he
                  replied, “Oh Memsahib, God won’t mind. He knows an African needs two wives – one
                  to go with him when he goes away to work and one to stay behind at home to cultivate
                  the shamba.

                  Needles to say, it is the old wife who has gone to till the family plot.

                  With love to all,

                  Mchewe Estate. 21st November 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  The drought has broken with a bang. We had a heavy storm in the hills behind
                  the house. Hail fell thick and fast. So nice for all the tiny new berries on the coffee! The
                  kids loved the excitement and three times Ann and Georgie ran out for a shower under
                  the eaves and had to be changed. After the third time I was fed up and made them both
                  lie on their beds whilst George and I had lunch in peace. I told Ann to keep the
                  casement shut as otherwise the rain would drive in on her bed. Half way through lunch I
                  heard delighted squeals from Georgie and went into the bedroom to investigate. Ann
                  was standing on the outer sill in the rain but had shut the window as ordered. “Well
                  Mummy , you didn’t say I mustn’t stand on the window sill, and I did shut the window.”
                  George is working so hard on the farm. I have a horrible feeling however that it is
                  what the Africans call ‘Kazi buri’ (waste of effort) as there seems no chance of the price of
                  coffee improving as long as this world depression continues. The worry is that our capitol
                  is nearly exhausted. Food is becoming difficult now that our neighbours have left. I used
                  to buy delicious butter from Kath Hickson-Wood and an African butcher used to kill a
                  beast once a week. Now that we are his only European customers he very rarely kills
                  anything larger than a goat, and though we do eat goat, believe me it is not from choice.
                  We have of course got plenty to eat, but our diet is very monotonous. I was
                  delighted when George shot a large bushbuck last week. What we could not use I cut
                  into strips and the salted strips are now hanging in the open garage to dry.

                  With love to all,

                  Mchewe Estate. 6th December 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  We have had a lot of rain and the countryside is lovely and green. Last week
                  George went to Mbeya taking Ann with him. This was a big adventure for Ann because
                  never before had she been anywhere without me. She was in a most blissful state as
                  she drove off in the old car clutching a little basket containing sandwiches and half a bottle
                  of milk. She looked so pretty in a new blue frock and with her tiny plaits tied with
                  matching blue ribbons. When Ann is animated she looks charming because her normally
                  pale cheeks become rosy and she shows her pretty dimples.

                  As I am still without an ayah I rather looked forward to a quiet morning with only
                  Georgie and Margery Kate to care for, but Georgie found it dull without Ann and wanted
                  to be entertained and even the normally placid baby was peevish. Then in mid morning
                  the rain came down in torrents, the result of a cloudburst in the hills directly behind our
                  house. The ravine next to our house was a terrifying sight. It appeared to be a great
                  muddy, roaring waterfall reaching from the very top of the hill to a point about 30 yards
                  behind our house and then the stream rushed on down the gorge in an angry brown
                  flood. The roar of the water was so great that we had to yell at one another to be heard.
                  By lunch time the rain had stopped and I anxiously awaited the return of Ann and
                  George. They returned on foot, drenched and hungry at about 2.30pm . George had
                  had to abandon the car on the main road as the Mchewe River had overflowed and
                  turned the road into a muddy lake. The lower part of the shamba had also been flooded
                  and the water receded leaving branches and driftwood amongst the coffee. This was my
                  first experience of a real tropical storm. I am afraid that after the battering the coffee has
                  had there is little hope of a decent crop next year.

                  Anyway Christmas is coming so we don’t dwell on these mishaps. The children
                  have already chosen their tree from amongst the young cypresses in the vegetable
                  garden. We all send our love and hope that you too will have a Happy Christmas.


                  Mchewe Estate. 22nd December 1935

                  Dearest Family,

                  I’ve been in the wars with my staff. The cook has been away ill for ten days but is
                  back today though shaky and full of self pity. The houseboy, who really has been a brick
                  during the cooks absence has now taken to his bed and I feel like taking to Mine! The
                  children however have the Christmas spirit and are making weird and wonderful paper
                  decorations. George’s contribution was to have the house whitewashed throughout and
                  it looks beautifully fresh.

                  My best bit of news is that my old ayah Janey has been to see me and would
                  like to start working here again on Jan 1st. We are all very well. We meant to give
                  ourselves an outing to Mbeya as a Christmas treat but here there is an outbreak of
                  enteric fever there so will now not go. We have had two visitors from the Diggings this
                  week. The children see so few strangers that they were fascinated and hung around
                  staring. Ann sat down on the arm of the couch beside one and studied his profile.
                  Suddenly she announced in her clear voice, “Mummy do you know, this man has got
                  wax in his ears!” Very awkward pause in the conversation. By the way when I was
                  cleaning out little Kate’s ears with a swab of cotton wool a few days ago, Ann asked
                  “Mummy, do bees have wax in their ears? Well, where do you get beeswax from

                  I meant to keep your Christmas parcel unopened until Christmas Eve but could
                  not resist peeping today. What lovely things! Ann so loves pretties and will be
                  delighted with her frocks. My dress is just right and I love Georgie’s manly little flannel
                  shorts and blue shirt. We have bought them each a watering can. I suppose I shall
                  regret this later. One of your most welcome gifts is the album of nursery rhyme records. I
                  am so fed up with those that we have. Both children love singing. I put a record on the
                  gramophone geared to slow and off they go . Georgie sings more slowly than Ann but
                  much more tunefully. Ann sings in a flat monotone but Georgie with great expression.
                  You ought to hear him render ‘Sing a song of sixpence’. He cannot pronounce an R or
                  an S. Mother has sent a large home made Christmas pudding and a fine Christmas
                  cake and George will shoot some partridges for Christmas dinner.
                  Think of us as I shall certainly think of you.

                  Your very loving,

                  Mchewe Estate. 2nd January 1936

                  Dearest Family,

                  Christmas was fun! The tree looked very gay with its load of tinsel, candles and
                  red crackers and the coloured balloons you sent. All the children got plenty of toys
                  thanks to Grandparents and Aunts. George made Ann a large doll’s bed and I made
                  some elegant bedding, Barbara, the big doll is now permanently bed ridden. Her poor
                  shattered head has come all unstuck and though I have pieced it together again it is a sad
                  sight. If you have not yet chosen a present for her birthday next month would you
                  please get a new head from the Handy House. I enclose measurements. Ann does so
                  love the doll. She always calls her, “My little girl”, and she keeps the doll’s bed beside
                  her own and never fails to kiss her goodnight.

                  We had no guests for Christmas this year but we were quite festive. Ann
                  decorated the dinner table with small pink roses and forget-me-knots and tinsel and the
                  crackers from the tree. It was a wet day but we played the new records and both
                  George and I worked hard to make it a really happy day for the children. The children
                  were hugely delighted when George made himself a revolting set of false teeth out of
                  plasticine and a moustache and beard of paper straw from a chocolate box. “Oh Daddy
                  you look exactly like Father Christmas!” cried an enthralled Ann. Before bedtime we lit
                  all the candles on the tree and sang ‘Away in a Manger’, and then we opened the box of
                  starlights you sent and Ann and Georgie had their first experience of fireworks.
                  After the children went to bed things deteriorated. First George went for his bath
                  and found and killed a large black snake in the bathroom. It must have been in the
                  bathroom when I bathed the children earlier in the evening. Then I developed bad
                  toothache which kept me awake all night and was agonising next day. Unfortunately the
                  bridge between the farm and Mbeya had been washed away and the water was too
                  deep for the car to ford until the 30th when at last I was able to take my poor swollen
                  face to Mbeya. There is now a young German woman dentist working at the hospital.
                  She pulled out the offending molar which had a large abscess attached to it.
                  Whilst the dentist attended to me, Ann and Georgie played happily with the
                  doctor’s children. I wish they could play more often with other children. Dr Eckhardt was
                  very pleased with Margery Kate who at seven months weighs 17 lbs and has lovely
                  rosy cheeks. He admired Ann and told her that she looked just like a German girl. “No I
                  don’t”, cried Ann indignantly, “I’m English!”

                  We were caught in a rain storm going home and as the old car still has no
                  windscreen or side curtains we all got soaked except for the baby who was snugly
                  wrapped in my raincoat. The kids thought it great fun. Ann is growing up fast now. She
                  likes to ‘help mummy’. She is a perfectionist at four years old which is rather trying. She
                  gets so discouraged when things do not turn out as well as she means them to. Sewing
                  is constantly being unpicked and paintings torn up. She is a very sensitive child.
                  Georgie is quite different. He is a man of action, but not silent. He talks incessantly
                  but lisps and stumbles over some words. At one time Ann and Georgie often
                  conversed in Ki-Swahili but they now scorn to do so. If either forgets and uses a Swahili
                  word, the other points a scornful finger and shouts “You black toto”.

                  With love to all,


                    From Tanganyika with Love


                    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                    Mchewe Estate. 11th July 1931.

                    Dearest Family,

                    You say that you would like to know more about our neighbours. Well there is
                    not much to tell. Kath Wood is very good about coming over to see me. I admire her
                    very much because she is so capable as well as being attractive. She speaks very
                    fluent Ki-Swahili and I envy her the way she can carry on a long conversation with the
                    natives. I am very slow in learning the language possibly because Lamek and the
                    houseboy both speak basic English.

                    I have very little to do with the Africans apart from the house servants, but I do
                    run a sort of clinic for the wives and children of our employees. The children suffer chiefly
                    from sore eyes and worms, and the older ones often have bad ulcers on their legs. All
                    farmers keep a stock of drugs and bandages.

                    George also does a bit of surgery and last month sewed up the sole of the foot
                    of a boy who had trodden on the blade of a panga, a sort of sword the Africans use for
                    hacking down bush. He made an excellent job of it. George tells me that the Africans
                    have wonderful powers of recuperation. Once in his bachelor days, one of his men was
                    disembowelled by an elephant. George washed his “guts” in a weak solution of
                    pot.permang, put them back in the cavity and sewed up the torn flesh and he

                    But to get back to the neighbours. We see less of Hicky Wood than of Kath.
                    Hicky can be charming but is often moody as I believe Irishmen often are.
                    Major Jones is now at home on his shamba, which he leaves from time to time
                    for temporary jobs on the district roads. He walks across fairly regularly and we are
                    always glad to see him for he is a great bearer of news. In this part of Africa there is no
                    knocking or ringing of doorbells. Front doors are always left open and visitors always
                    welcome. When a visitor approaches a house he shouts “Hodi”, and the owner of the
                    house yells “Karibu”, which I believe means “Come near” or approach, and tea is
                    produced in a matter of minutes no matter what hour of the day it is.
                    The road that passes all our farms is the only road to the Gold Diggings and
                    diggers often drop in on the Woods and Major Jones and bring news of the Goldfields.
                    This news is sometimes about gold but quite often about whose wife is living with
                    whom. This is a great country for gossip.

                    Major Jones now has his brother Llewyllen living with him. I drove across with
                    George to be introduced to him. Llewyllen’s health is poor and he looks much older than
                    his years and very like the portrait of Trader Horn. He has the same emaciated features,
                    burning eyes and long beard. He is proud of his Welsh tenor voice and often bursts into

                    Both brothers are excellent conversationalists and George enjoys walking over
                    sometimes on a Sunday for a bit of masculine company. The other day when George
                    walked across to visit the Joneses, he found both brothers in the shamba and Llew in a
                    great rage. They had been stooping to inspect a water furrow when Llew backed into a
                    hornets nest. One furious hornet stung him on the seat and another on the back of his
                    neck. Llew leapt forward and somehow his false teeth shot out into the furrow and were
                    carried along by the water. When George arrived Llew had retrieved his teeth but
                    George swears that, in the commotion, the heavy leather leggings, which Llew always
                    wears, had swivelled around on his thin legs and were calves to the front.
                    George has heard that Major Jones is to sell pert of his land to his Swedish brother-in-law, Max Coster, so we will soon have another couple in the neighbourhood.

                    I’ve had a bit of a pantomime here on the farm. On the day we went to Tukuyu,
                    all our washing was stolen from the clothes line and also our new charcoal iron. George
                    reported the matter to the police and they sent out a plain clothes policeman. He wears
                    the long white Arab gown called a Kanzu much in vogue here amongst the African elite
                    but, alas for secrecy, huge black police boots protrude from beneath the Kanzu and, to
                    add to this revealing clue, the askari springs to attention and salutes each time I pass by.
                    Not much hope of finding out the identity of the thief I fear.

                    George’s furrow was entirely successful and we now have water running behind
                    the kitchen. Our drinking water we get from a lovely little spring on the farm. We boil and
                    filter it for safety’s sake. I don’t think that is necessary. The furrow water is used for
                    washing pots and pans and for bath water.

                    Lots of love,

                    Mchewe Estate. 8th. August 1931

                    Dearest Family,

                    I think it is about time I told you that we are going to have a baby. We are both
                    thrilled about it. I have not seen a Doctor but feel very well and you are not to worry. I
                    looked it up in my handbook for wives and reckon that the baby is due about February
                    8th. next year.

                    The announcement came from George, not me! I had been feeling queasy for
                    days and was waiting for the right moment to tell George. You know. Soft lights and
                    music etc. However when I was listlessly poking my food around one lunch time
                    George enquired calmly, “When are you going to tell me about the baby?” Not at all
                    according to the book! The problem is where to have the baby. February is a very wet
                    month and the nearest Doctor is over 50 miles away at Tukuyu. I cannot go to stay at
                    Tukuyu because there is no European accommodation at the hospital, no hotel and no
                    friend with whom I could stay.

                    George thinks I should go South to you but Capetown is so very far away and I
                    love my little home here. Also George says he could not come all the way down with
                    me as he simply must stay here and get the farm on its feet. He would drive me as far
                    as the railway in Northern Rhodesia. It is a difficult decision to take. Write and tell me what
                    you think.

                    The days tick by quietly here. The servants are very willing but have to be
                    supervised and even then a crisis can occur. Last Saturday I was feeling squeamish and
                    decided not to have lunch. I lay reading on the couch whilst George sat down to a
                    solitary curry lunch. Suddenly he gave an exclamation and pushed back his chair. I
                    jumped up to see what was wrong and there, on his plate, gleaming in the curry gravy
                    were small bits of broken glass. I hurried to the kitchen to confront Lamek with the plate.
                    He explained that he had dropped the new and expensive bottle of curry powder on
                    the brick floor of the kitchen. He did not tell me as he thought I would make a “shauri” so
                    he simply scooped up the curry powder, removed the larger pieces of glass and used
                    part of the powder for seasoning the lunch.

                    The weather is getting warmer now. It was very cold in June and July and we had
                    fires in the daytime as well as at night. Now that much of the land has been cleared we
                    are able to go for pleasant walks in the weekends. My favourite spot is a waterfall on the
                    Mchewe River just on the boundary of our land. There is a delightful little pool below the
                    waterfall and one day George intends to stock it with trout.

                    Now that there are more Europeans around to buy meat the natives find it worth
                    their while to kill an occasional beast. Every now and again a native arrives with a large
                    bowl of freshly killed beef for sale. One has no way of knowing whether the animal was
                    healthy and the meat is often still warm and very bloody. I hated handling it at first but am
                    becoming accustomed to it now and have even started a brine tub. There is no other
                    way of keeping meat here and it can only be kept in its raw state for a few hours before
                    going bad. One of the delicacies is the hump which all African cattle have. When corned
                    it is like the best brisket.

                    See what a housewife I am becoming.
                    With much love,

                    Mchewe Estate. Sept.6th. 1931

                    Dearest Family,

                    I have grown to love the life here and am sad to think I shall be leaving
                    Tanganyika soon for several months. Yes I am coming down to have the baby in the
                    bosom of the family. George thinks it best and so does the doctor. I didn’t mention it
                    before but I have never recovered fully from the effects of that bad bout of malaria and
                    so I have been persuaded to leave George and our home and go to the Cape, in the
                    hope that I shall come back here as fit as when I first arrived in the country plus a really
                    healthy and bouncing baby. I am torn two ways, I long to see you all – but how I would
                    love to stay on here.

                    George will drive me down to Northern Rhodesia in early October to catch a
                    South bound train. I’ll telegraph the date of departure when I know it myself. The road is
                    very, very bad and the car has been giving a good deal of trouble so, though the baby
                    is not due until early February, George thinks it best to get the journey over soon as
                    possible, for the rains break in November and the the roads will then be impassable. It
                    may take us five or six days to reach Broken Hill as we will take it slowly. I am looking
                    forward to the drive through new country and to camping out at night.
                    Our days pass quietly by. George is out on the shamba most of the day. He
                    goes out before breakfast on weekdays and spends most of the day working with the
                    men – not only supervising but actually working with his hands and beating the labourers
                    at their own jobs. He comes to the house for meals and tea breaks. I potter around the
                    house and garden, sew, mend and read. Lamek continues to be a treasure. he turns out
                    some surprising dishes. One of his specialities is stuffed chicken. He carefully skins the
                    chicken removing all bones. He then minces all the chicken meat and adds minced onion
                    and potatoes. He then stuffs the chicken skin with the minced meat and carefully sews it
                    together again. The resulting dish is very filling because the boned chicken is twice the
                    size of a normal one. It lies on its back as round as a football with bloated legs in the air.
                    Rather repulsive to look at but Lamek is most proud of his accomplishment.
                    The other day he produced another of his masterpieces – a cooked tortoise. It
                    was served on a dish covered with parsley and crouched there sans shell but, only too
                    obviously, a tortoise. I took one look and fled with heaving diaphragm, but George said
                    it tasted quite good. He tells me that he has had queerer dishes produced by former
                    cooks. He says that once in his hunting days his cook served up a skinned baby
                    monkey with its hands folded on its breast. He says it would take a cannibal to eat that

                    And now for something sad. Poor old Llew died quite suddenly and it was a sad
                    shock to this tiny community. We went across to the funeral and it was a very simple and
                    dignified affair. Llew was buried on Joni’s farm in a grave dug by the farm boys. The
                    body was wrapped in a blanket and bound to some boards and lowered into the
                    ground. There was no service. The men just said “Good-bye Llew.” and “Sleep well
                    Llew”, and things like that. Then Joni and his brother-in-law Max, and George shovelled
                    soil over the body after which the grave was filled in by Joni’s shamba boys. It was a
                    lovely bright afternoon and I thought how simple and sensible a funeral it was.
                    I hope you will be glad to have me home. I bet Dad will be holding thumbs that
                    the baby will be a girl.

                    Very much love,

                    “There are no letters to my family during the period of Sept. 1931 to June 1932
                    because during these months I was living with my parents and sister in a suburb of
                    Cape Town. I had hoped to return to Tanganyika by air with my baby soon after her
                    birth in Feb.1932 but the doctor would not permit this.

                    A month before my baby was born, a company called Imperial Airways, had
                    started the first passenger service between South Africa and England. One of the night
                    stops was at Mbeya near my husband’s coffee farm, and it was my intention to take the
                    train to Broken Hill in Northern Rhodesia and to fly from there to Mbeya with my month
                    old baby. In those days however, commercial flying was still a novelty and the doctor
                    was not sure that flying at a high altitude might not have an adverse effect upon a young

                    He strongly advised me to wait until the baby was four months old and I did this
                    though the long wait was very trying to my husband alone on our farm in Tanganyika,
                    and to me, cherished though I was in my old home.

                    My story, covering those nine long months is soon told. My husband drove me
                    down from Mbeya to Broken Hill in NorthernRhodesia. The journey was tedious as the
                    weather was very hot and dry and the road sandy and rutted, very different from the
                    Great North road as it is today. The wooden wheel spokes of the car became so dry
                    that they rattled and George had to bind wet rags around them. We had several
                    punctures and with one thing and another I was lucky to catch the train.
                    My parents were at Cape Town station to welcome me and I stayed
                    comfortably with them, living very quietly, until my baby was born. She arrived exactly
                    on the appointed day, Feb.8th.

                    I wrote to my husband “Our Charmian Ann is a darling baby. She is very fair and
                    rather pale and has the most exquisite hands, with long tapering fingers. Daddy
                    absolutely dotes on her and so would you, if you were here. I can’t bear to think that you
                    are so terribly far away. Although Ann was born exactly on the day, I was taken quite by
                    surprise. It was awfully hot on the night before, and before going to bed I had a fancy for
                    some water melon. The result was that when I woke in the early morning with labour
                    pains and vomiting I thought it was just an attack of indigestion due to eating too much
                    melon. The result was that I did not wake Marjorie until the pains were pretty frequent.
                    She called our next door neighbour who, in his pyjamas, drove me to the nursing home
                    at breakneck speed. The Matron was very peeved that I had left things so late but all
                    went well and by nine o’clock, Mother, positively twittering with delight, was allowed to
                    see me and her first granddaughter . She told me that poor Dad was in such a state of
                    nerves that he was sick amongst the grapevines. He says that he could not bear to go
                    through such an anxious time again, — so we will have to have our next eleven in

                    The next four months passed rapidly as my time was taken up by the demands
                    of my new baby. Dr. Trudy King’s method of rearing babies was then the vogue and I
                    stuck fanatically to all the rules he laid down, to the intense exasperation of my parents
                    who longed to cuddle the child.

                    As the time of departure drew near my parents became more and more reluctant
                    to allow me to face the journey alone with their adored grandchild, so my brother,
                    Graham, very generously offered to escort us on the train to Broken Hill where he could
                    put us on the plane for Mbeya.

                    Eleanor Rushby


                    Mchewe Estate. June 15th 1932

                    Dearest Family,

                    You’ll be glad to know that we arrived quite safe and sound and very, very
                    happy to be home.The train Journey was uneventful. Ann slept nearly all the way.
                    Graham was very kind and saw to everything. He even sat with the baby whilst I went
                    to meals in the dining car.

                    We were met at Broken Hill by the Thoms who had arranged accommodation for
                    us at the hotel for the night. They also drove us to the aerodrome in the morning where
                    the Airways agent told us that Ann is the first baby to travel by air on this section of the
                    Cape to England route. The plane trip was very bumpy indeed especially between
                    Broken Hill and Mpika. Everyone was ill including poor little Ann who sicked up her milk
                    all over the front of my new coat. I arrived at Mbeya looking a sorry caricature of Radiant
                    Motherhood. I must have been pale green and the baby was snow white. Under the
                    circumstances it was a good thing that George did not meet us. We were met instead
                    by Ken Menzies, the owner of the Mbeya Hotel where we spent the night. Ken was
                    most fatherly and kind and a good nights rest restored Ann and me to our usual robust

                    Mbeya has greatly changed. The hotel is now finished and can accommodate
                    fifty guests. It consists of a large main building housing a large bar and dining room and
                    offices and a number of small cottage bedrooms. It even has electric light. There are
                    several buildings out at the aerodrome and private houses going up in Mbeya.
                    After breakfast Ken Menzies drove us out to the farm where we had a warm
                    welcome from George, who looks well but rather thin. The house was spotless and the
                    new cook, Abel, had made light scones for tea. George had prepared all sorts of lovely
                    surprises. There is a new reed ceiling in the living room and a new dresser gay with
                    willow pattern plates which he had ordered from England. There is also a writing table
                    and a square table by the door for visitors hats. More personal is a lovely model ship
                    which George assembled from one of those Hobbie’s kits. It puts the finishing touch to
                    the rather old world air of our living room.

                    In the bedroom there is a large double bed which George made himself. It has
                    strips of old car tyres nailed to a frame which makes a fine springy mattress and on top
                    of this is a thick mattress of kapok.In the kitchen there is a good wood stove which
                    George salvaged from a Mission dump. It looks a bit battered but works very well. The
                    new cook is excellent. The only blight is that he will wear rubber soled tennis shoes and
                    they smell awful. I daren’t hurt his feelings by pointing this out though. Opposite the
                    kitchen is a new laundry building containing a forty gallon hot water drum and a sink for
                    washing up. Lovely!

                    George has been working very hard. He now has forty acres of coffee seedlings
                    planted out and has also found time to plant a rose garden and fruit trees. There are
                    orange and peach trees, tree tomatoes, paw paws, guavas and berries. He absolutely
                    adores Ann who has been very good and does not seem at all unsettled by the long

                    It is absolutely heavenly to be back and I shall be happier than ever now that I
                    have a baby to play with during the long hours when George is busy on the farm,
                    Thank you for all your love and care during the many months I was with you. Ann
                    sends a special bubble for granddad.

                    Your very loving,

                    Mchewe Estate Mbeya July 18th 1932

                    Dearest Family,

                    Ann at five months is enchanting. She is a very good baby, smiles readily and is
                    gaining weight steadily. She doesn’t sleep much during the day but that does not
                    matter, because, apart from washing her little things, I have nothing to do but attend to
                    her. She sleeps very well at night which is a blessing as George has to get up very
                    early to start work on the shamba and needs a good nights rest.
                    My nights are not so good, because we are having a plague of rats which frisk
                    around in the bedroom at night. Great big ones that come up out of the long grass in the
                    gorge beside the house and make cosy homes on our reed ceiling and in the thatch of
                    the roof.

                    We always have a night light burning so that, if necessary, I can attend to Ann
                    with a minimum of fuss, and the things I see in that dim light! There are gaps between
                    the reeds and one night I heard, plop! and there, before my horrified gaze, lay a newly
                    born hairless baby rat on the floor by the bed, plop, plop! and there lay two more.
                    Quite dead, poor things – but what a careless mother.

                    I have also seen rats scampering around on the tops of the mosquito nets and
                    sometimes we have them on our bed. They have a lovely game. They swarm down
                    the cord from which the mosquito net is suspended, leap onto the bed and onto the
                    floor. We do not have our net down now the cold season is here and there are few

                    Last week a rat crept under Ann’s net which hung to the floor and bit her little
                    finger, so now I tuck the net in under the mattress though it makes it difficult for me to
                    attend to her at night. We shall have to get a cat somewhere. Ann’s pram has not yet
                    arrived so George carries her when we go walking – to her great content.
                    The native women around here are most interested in Ann. They come to see
                    her, bearing small gifts, and usually bring a child or two with them. They admire my child
                    and I admire theirs and there is an exchange of gifts. They produce a couple of eggs or
                    a few bananas or perhaps a skinny fowl and I hand over sugar, salt or soap as they
                    value these commodities. The most lavish gift went to the wife of Thomas our headman,
                    who produced twin daughters in the same week as I had Ann.

                    Our neighbours have all been across to welcome me back and to admire the
                    baby. These include Marion Coster who came out to join her husband whilst I was in
                    South Africa. The two Hickson-Wood children came over on a fat old white donkey.
                    They made a pretty picture sitting astride, one behind the other – Maureen with her arms
                    around small Michael’s waist. A native toto led the donkey and the children’ s ayah
                    walked beside it.

                    It is quite cold here now but the sun is bright and the air dry. The whole
                    countryside is beautifully green and we are a very happy little family.

                    Lots and lots of love,

                    Mchewe Estate August 11th 1932

                    Dearest Family,

                    George has been very unwell for the past week. He had a nasty gash on his
                    knee which went septic. He had a swelling in the groin and a high temperature and could
                    not sleep at night for the pain in his leg. Ann was very wakeful too during the same
                    period, I think she is teething. I luckily have kept fit though rather harassed. Yesterday the
                    leg looked so inflamed that George decided to open up the wound himself. he made
                    quite a big cut in exactly the right place. You should have seen the blackish puss
                    pouring out.

                    After he had thoroughly cleaned the wound George sewed it up himself. he has
                    the proper surgical needles and gut. He held the cut together with his left hand and
                    pushed the needle through the flesh with his right. I pulled the needle out and passed it
                    to George for the next stitch. I doubt whether a surgeon could have made a neater job
                    of it. He is still confined to the couch but today his temperature is normal. Some

                    The previous week was hectic in another way. We had a visit from lions! George
                    and I were having supper about 8.30 on Tuesday night when the back verandah was
                    suddenly invaded by women and children from the servants quarters behind the kitchen.
                    They were all yelling “Simba, Simba.” – simba means lions. The door opened suddenly
                    and the houseboy rushed in to say that there were lions at the huts. George got up
                    swiftly, fetched gun and ammunition from the bedroom and with the houseboy carrying
                    the lamp, went off to investigate. I remained at the table, carrying on with my supper as I
                    felt a pioneer’s wife should! Suddenly something big leapt through the open window
                    behind me. You can imagine what I thought! I know now that it is quite true to say one’s
                    hair rises when one is scared. However it was only Kelly, our huge Irish wolfhound,
                    taking cover.

                    George returned quite soon to say that apparently the commotion made by the
                    women and children had frightened the lions off. He found their tracks in the soft earth
                    round the huts and a bag of maize that had been playfully torn open but the lions had
                    moved on.

                    Next day we heard that they had moved to Hickson-Wood’s shamba. Hicky
                    came across to say that the lions had jumped over the wall of his cattle boma and killed
                    both his white Muskat riding donkeys.
                    He and a friend sat up all next night over the remains but the lions did not return to
                    the kill.

                    Apart from the little set back last week, Ann is blooming. She has a cap of very
                    fine fair hair and clear blue eyes under straight brow. She also has lovely dimples in both
                    cheeks. We are very proud of her.

                    Our neighbours are picking coffee but the crops are small and the price is low. I
                    am amazed that they are so optimistic about the future. No one in these parts ever
                    seems to grouse though all are living on capital. They all say “Well if the worst happens
                    we can always go up to the Lupa Diggings.”

                    Don’t worry about us, we have enough to tide us over for some time yet.

                    Much love to all,

                    Mchewe Estate. 28th Sept. 1932

                    Dearest Family,

                    News! News! I’m going to have another baby. George and I are delighted and I
                    hope it will be a boy this time. I shall be able to have him at Mbeya because things are
                    rapidly changing here. Several German families have moved to Mbeya including a
                    German doctor who means to build a hospital there. I expect he will make a very good
                    living because there must now be some hundreds of Europeans within a hundred miles
                    radius of Mbeya. The Europeans are mostly British or German but there are also
                    Greeks and, I believe, several other nationalities are represented on the Lupa Diggings.
                    Ann is blooming and developing according to the Book except that she has no
                    teeth yet! Kath Hickson-Wood has given her a very nice high chair and now she has
                    breakfast and lunch at the table with us. Everything within reach goes on the floor to her
                    amusement and my exasperation!

                    You ask whether we have any Church of England missionaries in our part. No we
                    haven’t though there are Lutheran and Roman Catholic Missions. I have never even
                    heard of a visiting Church of England Clergyman to these parts though there are babies
                    in plenty who have not been baptised. Jolly good thing I had Ann Christened down

                    The R.C. priests in this area are called White Fathers. They all have beards and
                    wear white cassocks and sun helmets. One, called Father Keiling, calls around frequently.
                    Though none of us in this area is Catholic we take it in turn to put him up for the night. The
                    Catholic Fathers in their turn are most hospitable to travellers regardless of their beliefs.
                    Rather a sad thing has happened. Lucas our old chicken-boy is dead. I shall miss
                    his toothy smile. George went to the funeral and fired two farewell shots from his rifle
                    over the grave – a gesture much appreciated by the locals. Lucas in his day was a good

                    Several of the locals own muzzle loading guns but the majority hunt with dogs
                    and spears. The dogs wear bells which make an attractive jingle but I cannot bear the
                    idea of small antelope being run down until they are exhausted before being clubbed of
                    stabbed to death. We seldom eat venison as George does not care to shoot buck.
                    Recently though, he shot an eland and Abel rendered down the fat which is excellent for
                    cooking and very like beef fat.

                    Much love to all,

                    Mchewe Estate. P.O.Mbeya 21st November 1932

                    Dearest Family,

                    George has gone off to the Lupa for a week with John Molteno. John came up
                    here with the idea of buying a coffee farm but he has changed his mind and now thinks of
                    staking some claims on the diggings and also setting up as a gold buyer.

                    Did I tell you about his arrival here? John and George did some elephant hunting
                    together in French Equatorial Africa and when John heard that George had married and
                    settled in Tanganyika, he also decided to come up here. He drove up from Cape Town
                    in a Baby Austin and arrived just as our labourers were going home for the day. The little
                    car stopped half way up our hill and John got out to investigate. You should have heard
                    the astonished exclamations when John got out – all 6 ft 5 ins. of him! He towered over
                    the little car and even to me it seemed impossible for him to have made the long
                    journey in so tiny a car.

                    Kath Wood has been over several times lately. She is slim and looks so right in
                    the shirt and corduroy slacks she almost always wears. She was here yesterday when
                    the shamba boy, digging in the front garden, unearthed a large earthenware cooking pot,
                    sealed at the top. I was greatly excited and had an instant mental image of fabulous
                    wealth. We made the boy bring the pot carefully on to the verandah and opened it in
                    happy anticipation. What do you think was inside? Nothing but a grinning skull! Such a
                    treat for a pregnant female.

                    We have a tree growing here that had lovely straight branches covered by a
                    smooth bark. I got the garden boy to cut several of these branches of a uniform size,
                    peeled off the bark and have made Ann a playpen with the poles which are much like
                    broom sticks. Now I can leave her unattended when I do my chores. The other morning
                    after breakfast I put Ann in her playpen on the verandah and gave her a piece of toast
                    and honey to keep her quiet whilst I laundered a few of her things. When I looked out a
                    little later I was horrified to see a number of bees buzzing around her head whilst she
                    placidly concentrated on her toast. I made a rapid foray and rescued her but I still don’t
                    know whether that was the thing to do.

                    We all send our love,

                    Mbeya Hospital. April 25th. 1933

                    Dearest Family,

                    Here I am, installed at the very new hospital, built by Dr Eckhardt, awaiting the
                    arrival of the new baby. George has gone back to the farm on foot but will walk in again
                    to spend the weekend with us. Ann is with me and enjoys the novelty of playing with
                    other children. The Eckhardts have two, a pretty little girl of two and a half and a very fair
                    roly poly boy of Ann’s age. Ann at fourteen months is very active. She is quite a little girl
                    now with lovely dimples. She walks well but is backward in teething.

                    George, Ann and I had a couple of days together at the hotel before I moved in
                    here and several of the local women visited me and have promised to visit me in
                    hospital. The trip from farm to town was very entertaining if not very comfortable. There
                    is ten miles of very rough road between our farm and Utengule Mission and beyond the
                    Mission there is a fair thirteen or fourteen mile road to Mbeya.

                    As we have no car now the doctor’s wife offered to drive us from the Mission to
                    Mbeya but she would not risk her car on the road between the Mission and our farm.
                    The upshot was that I rode in the Hickson-Woods machila for that ten mile stretch. The
                    machila is a canopied hammock, slung from a bamboo pole, in which I reclined, not too
                    comfortably in my unwieldy state, with Ann beside me or sometime straddling me. Four
                    of our farm boys carried the machila on their shoulders, two fore and two aft. The relief
                    bearers walked on either side. There must have been a dozen in all and they sang a sort
                    of sea shanty song as they walked. One man would sing a verse and the others took up
                    the chorus. They often improvise as they go. They moaned about my weight (at least
                    George said so! I don’t follow Ki-Swahili well yet) and expressed the hope that I would
                    have a son and that George would reward them handsomely.

                    George and Kelly, the dog, followed close behind the machila and behind
                    George came Abel our cook and his wife and small daughter Annalie, all in their best
                    attire. The cook wore a palm beach suit, large Terai hat and sunglasses and two colour
                    shoes and quite lent a tone to the proceedings! Right at the back came the rag tag and
                    bobtail who joined the procession just for fun.

                    Mrs Eckhardt was already awaiting us at the Mission when we arrived and we had
                    an uneventful trip to the Mbeya Hotel.

                    During my last week at the farm I felt very tired and engaged the cook’s small
                    daughter, Annalie, to amuse Ann for an hour after lunch so that I could have a rest. They
                    played in the small verandah room which adjoins our bedroom and where I keep all my
                    sewing materials. One afternoon I was startled by a scream from Ann. I rushed to the
                    room and found Ann with blood steaming from her cheek. Annalie knelt beside her,
                    looking startled and frightened, with my embroidery scissors in her hand. She had cut off
                    half of the long curling golden lashes on one of Ann’s eyelids and, in trying to finish the
                    job, had cut off a triangular flap of skin off Ann’s cheek bone.

                    I called Abel, the cook, and demanded that he should chastise his daughter there and
                    then and I soon heard loud shrieks from behind the kitchen. He spanked her with a
                    bamboo switch but I am sure not as well as she deserved. Africans are very tolerant
                    towards their children though I have seen husbands and wives fighting furiously.
                    I feel very well but long to have the confinement over.

                    Very much love,

                    Mbeya Hospital. 2nd May 1933.

                    Dearest Family,

                    Little George arrived at 7.30 pm on Saturday evening 29 th. April. George was
                    with me at the time as he had walked in from the farm for news, and what a wonderful bit
                    of luck that was. The doctor was away on a case on the Diggings and I was bathing Ann
                    with George looking on, when the pains started. George dried Ann and gave her
                    supper and put her to bed. Afterwards he sat on the steps outside my room and a
                    great comfort it was to know that he was there.

                    The confinement was short but pretty hectic. The Doctor returned to the Hospital
                    just in time to deliver the baby. He is a grand little boy, beautifully proportioned. The
                    doctor says he has never seen a better formed baby. He is however rather funny
                    looking just now as his head is, very temporarily, egg shaped. He has a shock of black
                    silky hair like a gollywog and believe it or not, he has a slight black moustache.
                    George came in, looked at the baby, looked at me, and we both burst out
                    laughing. The doctor was shocked and said so. He has no sense of humour and couldn’t
                    understand that we, though bursting with pride in our son, could never the less laugh at

                    Friends in Mbeya have sent me the most gorgeous flowers and my room is
                    transformed with delphiniums, roses and carnations. The room would be very austere
                    without the flowers. Curtains, bedspread and enamelware, walls and ceiling are all
                    snowy white.

                    George hired a car and took Ann home next day. I have little George for
                    company during the day but he is removed at night. I am longing to get him home and
                    away from the German nurse who feeds him on black tea when he cries. She insists that
                    tea is a medicine and good for him.

                    Much love from a proud mother of two.

                    Mchewe Estate 12May 1933

                    Dearest Family,

                    We are all together at home again and how lovely it feels. Even the house
                    servants seem pleased. The boy had decorated the lounge with sprays of
                    bougainvillaea and Abel had backed one of his good sponge cakes.

                    Ann looked fat and rosy but at first was only moderately interested in me and the
                    new baby but she soon thawed. George is good with her and will continue to dress Ann
                    in the mornings and put her to bed until I am satisfied with Georgie.

                    He, poor mite, has a nasty rash on face and neck. I am sure it is just due to that
                    tea the nurse used to give him at night. He has lost his moustache and is fast loosing his
                    wild black hair and emerging as quite a handsome babe. He is a very masculine looking
                    infant with much more strongly marked eyebrows and a larger nose that Ann had. He is
                    very good and lies quietly in his basket even when awake.

                    George has been making a hatching box for brown trout ova and has set it up in
                    a small clear stream fed by a spring in readiness for the ova which is expected from
                    South Africa by next weeks plane. Some keen fishermen from Mbeya and the District
                    have clubbed together to buy the ova. The fingerlings are later to be transferred to
                    streams in Mbeya and Tukuyu Districts.

                    I shall now have my hands full with the two babies and will not have much time for the
                    garden, or I fear, for writing very long letters. Remember though, that no matter how
                    large my family becomes, I shall always love you as much as ever.

                    Your affectionate,

                    Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1933

                    Dearest Family,

                    The four of us are all well but alas we have lost our dear Kelly. He was rather a
                    silly dog really, although he grew so big he retained all his puppy ways but we were all
                    very fond of him, especially George because Kelly attached himself to George whilst I
                    was away having Ann and from that time on he was George’s shadow. I think he had
                    some form of biliary fever. He died stretched out on the living room couch late last night,
                    with George sitting beside him so that he would not feel alone.

                    The children are growing fast. Georgie is a darling. He now has a fluff of pale
                    brown hair and his eyes are large and dark brown. Ann is very plump and fair.
                    We have had several visitors lately. Apart from neighbours, a car load of diggers
                    arrived one night and John Molteno and his bride were here. She is a very attractive girl
                    but, I should say, more suited to life in civilisation than in this back of beyond. She has
                    gone out to the diggings with her husband and will have to walk a good stretch of the fifty
                    or so miles.

                    The diggers had to sleep in the living room on the couch and on hastily erected
                    camp beds. They arrived late at night and left after breakfast next day. One had half a
                    beard, the other side of his face had been forcibly shaved in the bar the night before.

                    your affectionate,

                    Mchewe Estate. August 10 th. 1933

                    Dearest Family,

                    George is away on safari with two Indian Army officers. The money he will get for
                    his services will be very welcome because this coffee growing is a slow business, and
                    our capitol is rapidly melting away. The job of acting as White Hunter was unexpected
                    or George would not have taken on the job of hatching the ova which duly arrived from
                    South Africa.

                    George and the District Commissioner, David Pollock, went to meet the plane
                    by which the ova had been consigned but the pilot knew nothing about the package. It
                    came to light in the mail bag with the parcels! However the ova came to no harm. David
                    Pollock and George brought the parcel to the farm and carefully transferred the ova to
                    the hatching box. It was interesting to watch the tiny fry hatch out – a process which took
                    several days. Many died in the process and George removed the dead by sucking
                    them up in a glass tube.

                    When hatched, the tiny fry were fed on ant eggs collected by the boys. I had to
                    take over the job of feeding and removing the dead when George left on safari. The fry
                    have to be fed every four hours, like the baby, so each time I have fed Georgie. I hurry
                    down to feed the trout.

                    The children are very good but keep me busy. Ann can now say several words
                    and understands more. She adores Georgie. I long to show them off to you.

                    Very much love

                    Mchewe Estate. October 27th 1933

                    Dear Family,

                    All just over flu. George and Ann were very poorly. I did not fare so badly and
                    Georgie came off best. He is on a bottle now.

                    There was some excitement here last Wednesday morning. At 6.30 am. I called
                    for boiling water to make Georgie’s food. No water arrived but muffled shouting and the
                    sound of blows came from the kitchen. I went to investigate and found a fierce fight in
                    progress between the house boy and the kitchen boy. In my efforts to make them stop
                    fighting I went too close and got a sharp bang on the mouth with the edge of an
                    enamelled plate the kitchen boy was using as a weapon. My teeth cut my lip inside and
                    the plate cut it outside and blood flowed from mouth to chin. The boys were petrified.
                    By the time I had fed Georgie the lip was stiff and swollen. George went in wrath
                    to the kitchen and by breakfast time both house boy and kitchen boy had swollen faces
                    too. Since then I have a kettle of boiling water to hand almost before the words are out
                    of my mouth. I must say that the fight was because the house boy had clouted the
                    kitchen boy for keeping me waiting! In this land of piece work it is the job of the kitchen
                    boy to light the fire and boil the kettle but the houseboy’s job to carry the kettle to me.
                    I have seen little of Kath Wood or Marion Coster for the past two months. Major
                    Jones is the neighbour who calls most regularly. He has a wireless set and calls on all of
                    us to keep us up to date with world as well as local news. He often brings oranges for
                    Ann who adores him. He is a very nice person but no oil painting and makes no effort to
                    entertain Ann but she thinks he is fine. Perhaps his monocle appeals to her.

                    George has bought a six foot long galvanised bath which is a great improvement
                    on the smaller oval one we have used until now. The smaller one had grown battered
                    from much use and leaks like a sieve. Fortunately our bathroom has a cement floor,
                    because one had to fill the bath to the brim and then bath extremely quickly to avoid
                    being left high and dry.

                    Lots and lots of love,

                    Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 1st December 1933

                    Dearest Family,

                    Ann has not been well. We think she has had malaria. She has grown a good
                    deal lately and looks much thinner and rather pale. Georgie is thriving and has such
                    sparkling brown eyes and a ready smile. He and Ann make a charming pair, one so fair
                    and the other dark.

                    The Moltenos’ spent a few days here and took Georgie and me to Mbeya so
                    that Georgie could be vaccinated. However it was an unsatisfactory trip because the
                    doctor had no vaccine.

                    George went to the Lupa with the Moltenos and returned to the farm in their Baby
                    Austin which they have lent to us for a week. This was to enable me to go to Mbeya to
                    have a couple of teeth filled by a visiting dentist.

                    We went to Mbeya in the car on Saturday. It was quite a squash with the four of
                    us on the front seat of the tiny car. Once George grabbed the babies foot instead of the
                    gear knob! We had Georgie vaccinated at the hospital and then went to the hotel where
                    the dentist was installed. Mr Dare, the dentist, had few instruments and they were very
                    tarnished. I sat uncomfortably on a kitchen chair whilst he tinkered with my teeth. He filled
                    three but two of the fillings came out that night. This meant another trip to Mbeya in the
                    Baby Austin but this time they seem all right.

                    The weather is very hot and dry and the garden a mess. We are having trouble
                    with the young coffee trees too. Cut worms are killing off seedlings in the nursery and
                    there is a borer beetle in the planted out coffee.

                    George bought a large grey donkey from some wandering Masai and we hope
                    the children will enjoy riding it later on.

                    Very much love,

                    Mchewe Estate. 14th February 1934.

                    Dearest Family,

                    You will be sorry to hear that little Ann has been very ill, indeed we were terribly
                    afraid that we were going to lose her. She enjoyed her birthday on the 8th. All the toys
                    you, and her English granny, sent were unwrapped with such delight. However next
                    day she seemed listless and a bit feverish so I tucked her up in bed after lunch. I dosed
                    her with quinine and aspirin and she slept fitfully. At about eleven o’clock I was
                    awakened by a strange little cry. I turned up the night light and was horrified to see that
                    Ann was in a convulsion. I awakened George who, as always in an emergency, was
                    perfectly calm and practical. He filled the small bath with very warm water and emersed
                    Ann in it, placing a cold wet cloth on her head. We then wrapped her in blankets and
                    gave her an enema and she settled down to sleep. A few hours later we had the same
                    thing over again.

                    At first light we sent a runner to Mbeya to fetch the doctor but waited all day in
                    vain and in the evening the runner returned to say that the doctor had gone to a case on
                    the diggings. Ann had been feverish all day with two or three convulsions. Neither
                    George or I wished to leave the bedroom, but there was Georgie to consider, and in
                    the afternoon I took him out in the garden for a while whilst George sat with Ann.
                    That night we both sat up all night and again Ann had those wretched attacks of
                    convulsions. George and I were worn out with anxiety by the time the doctor arrived the
                    next afternoon. Ann had not been able to keep down any quinine and had had only
                    small sips of water since the onset of the attack.

                    The doctor at once diagnosed the trouble as malaria aggravated by teething.
                    George held Ann whilst the Doctor gave her an injection. At the first attempt the needle
                    bent into a bow, George was furious! The second attempt worked and after a few hours
                    Ann’s temperature dropped and though she was ill for two days afterwards she is now
                    up and about. She has also cut the last of her baby teeth, thank God. She looks thin and
                    white, but should soon pick up. It has all been a great strain to both of us. Georgie
                    behaved like an angel throughout. He played happily in his cot and did not seem to
                    sense any tension as people say, babies do. Our baby was cheerful and not at all

                    This is the rainy season and it is a good thing that some work has been done on
                    our road or the doctor might not have got through.

                    Much love to all,

                    Mchewe Estate. 1st October 1934

                    Dearest Family,

                    We are all well now, thank goodness, but last week Georgie gave us such a
                    fright. I was sitting on the verandah, busy with some sewing and not watching Ann and
                    Georgie, who were trying to reach a bunch of bananas which hung on a rope from a
                    beam of the verandah. Suddenly I heard a crash, Georgie had fallen backward over the
                    edge of the verandah and hit the back of his head on the edge of the brick furrow which
                    carries away the rainwater. He lay flat on his back with his arms spread out and did not
                    move or cry. When I picked him up he gave a little whimper, I carried him to his cot and
                    bathed his face and soon he began sitting up and appeared quite normal. The trouble
                    began after he had vomited up his lunch. He began to whimper and bang his head
                    against the cot.

                    George and I were very worried because we have no transport so we could not
                    take Georgie to the doctor and we could not bear to go through again what we had gone
                    through with Ann earlier in the year. Then, in the late afternoon, a miracle happened. Two
                    men George hardly knew, and complete strangers to me, called in on their way from the
                    diggings to Mbeya and they kindly drove Georgie and me to the hospital. The Doctor
                    allowed me to stay with Georgie and we spent five days there. Luckily he responded to
                    treatment and is now as alive as ever. Children do put years on one!

                    There is nothing much else to report. We have a new vegetable garden which is
                    doing well but the earth here is strange. Gardens seem to do well for two years but by
                    that time the soil is exhausted and one must move the garden somewhere else. The
                    coffee looks well but it will be another year before we can expect even a few bags of
                    coffee and prices are still low. Anyway by next year George should have some good
                    return for all his hard work.

                    Lots of love,

                    Mchewe Estate. November 4th 1934

                    Dearest Family,

                    George is home from his White Hunting safari looking very sunburnt and well.
                    The elderly American, who was his client this time, called in here at the farm to meet me
                    and the children. It is amazing what spirit these old lads have! This one looked as though
                    he should be thinking in terms of slippers and an armchair but no, he thinks in terms of
                    high powered rifles with telescopic sights.

                    It is lovely being together again and the children are delighted to have their Dad
                    home. Things are always exciting when George is around. The day after his return
                    George said at breakfast, “We can’t go on like this. You and the kids never get off the
                    shamba. We’ll simply have to get a car.” You should have heard the excitement. “Get a
                    car Daddy?’” cried Ann jumping in her chair so that her plaits bounced. “Get a car
                    Daddy?” echoed Georgie his brown eyes sparkling. “A car,” said I startled, “However
                    can we afford one?”

                    “Well,” said George, “on my way back from Safari I heard that a car is to be sold
                    this week at the Tukuyu Court, diseased estate or bankruptcy or something, I might get it
                    cheap and it is an A.C.” The name meant nothing to me, but George explained that an
                    A.C. is first cousin to a Rolls Royce.

                    So off he went to the sale and next day the children and I listened all afternoon for
                    the sound of an approaching car. We had many false alarms but, towards evening we
                    heard what appeared to be the roar of an aeroplane engine. It was the A.C. roaring her
                    way up our steep hill with a long plume of steam waving gaily above her radiator.
                    Out jumped my beaming husband and in no time at all, he was showing off her
                    points to an admiring family. Her lines are faultless and seats though worn are most
                    comfortable. She has a most elegant air so what does it matter that the radiator leaks like
                    a sieve, her exhaust pipe has broken off, her tyres are worn almost to the canvas and
                    she has no windscreen. She goes, and she cost only five pounds.

                    Next afternoon George, the kids and I piled into the car and drove along the road
                    on lookout for guinea fowl. All went well on the outward journey but on the homeward
                    one the poor A.C. simply gasped and died. So I carried the shot gun and George
                    carried both children and we trailed sadly home. This morning George went with a bunch
                    of farmhands and brought her home. Truly temperamental, she came home literally
                    under her own steam.

                    George now plans to get a second hand engine and radiator for her but it won’t
                    be an A.C. engine. I think she is the only one of her kind in the country.
                    I am delighted to hear, dad, that you are sending a bridle for Joseph for
                    Christmas. I am busy making a saddle out of an old piece of tent canvas stuffed with
                    kapok, some webbing and some old rug straps. A car and a riding donkey! We’re
                    definitely carriage folk now.

                    Lots of love to all,

                    Mchewe Estate. 28th December 1934

                    Dearest Family,

                    Thank you for the wonderful Christmas parcel. My frock is a splendid fit. George
                    declares that no one can knit socks like Mummy and the children love their toys and new

                    Joseph, the donkey, took his bit with an air of bored resignation and Ann now
                    rides proudly on his back. Joseph is a big strong animal with the looks and disposition of
                    a mule. he will not go at all unless a native ‘toto’ walks before him and when he does go
                    he wears a pained expression as though he were carrying fourteen stone instead of
                    Ann’s fly weight. I walk beside the donkey carrying Georgie and our cat, ‘Skinny Winnie’,
                    follows behind. Quite a cavalcade. The other day I got so exasperated with Joseph that
                    I took Ann off and I got on. Joseph tottered a few paces and sat down! to the huge
                    delight of our farm labourers who were going home from work. Anyway, one good thing,
                    the donkey is so lazy that there is little chance of him bolting with Ann.

                    The Moltenos spent Christmas with us and left for the Lupa Diggings yesterday.
                    They arrived on the 22nd. with gifts for the children and chocolates and beer. That very
                    afternoon George and John Molteno left for Ivuna, near Lake Ruckwa, to shoot some
                    guinea fowl and perhaps a goose for our Christmas dinner. We expected the menfolk
                    back on Christmas Eve and Anne and I spent a busy day making mince pies and
                    sausage rolls. Why I don’t know, because I am sure Abel could have made them better.
                    We decorated the Christmas tree and sat up very late but no husbands turned up.
                    Christmas day passed but still no husbands came. Anne, like me, is expecting a baby
                    and we both felt pretty forlorn and cross. Anne was certain that they had been caught up
                    in a party somewhere and had forgotten all about us and I must say when Boxing Day
                    went by and still George and John did not show up I felt ready to agree with her.
                    They turned up towards evening and explained that on the homeward trip the car
                    had bogged down in the mud and that they had spent a miserable Christmas. Anne
                    refused to believe their story so George, to prove their case, got the game bag and
                    tipped the contents on to the dining room table. Out fell several guinea fowl, long past
                    being edible, followed by a large goose so high that it was green and blue where all the
                    feathers had rotted off.

                    The stench was too much for two pregnant girls. I shot out of the front door
                    closely followed by Anne and we were both sick in the garden.

                    I could not face food that evening but Anne is made of stronger stuff and ate her
                    belated Christmas dinner with relish.

                    I am looking forward enormously to having Marjorie here with us. She will be able
                    to carry back to you an eyewitness account of our home and way of life.

                    Much love to you all,

                    Mchewe Estate. 5th January 1935

                    Dearest Family,

                    You cannot imagine how lovely it is to have Marjorie here. She came just in time
                    because I have had pernicious vomiting and have lost a great deal of weight and she
                    took charge of the children and made me spend three days in hospital having treatment.
                    George took me to the hospital on the afternoon of New Years Eve and decided
                    to spend the night at the hotel and join in the New Years Eve celebrations. I had several
                    visitors at the hospital that evening and George actually managed to get some imported
                    grapes for me. He returned to the farm next morning and fetched me from the hospital
                    four days later. Of course the old A.C. just had to play up. About half way home the
                    back axle gave in and we had to send a passing native some miles back to a place
                    called Mbalizi to hire a lorry from a Greek trader to tow us home to the farm.
                    The children looked well and were full of beans. I think Marjorie was thankful to
                    hand them over to me. She is delighted with Ann’s motherly little ways but Georgie she
                    calls “a really wild child”. He isn’t, just has such an astonishing amount of energy and is
                    always up to mischief. Marjorie brought us all lovely presents. I am so thrilled with my
                    sewing machine. It may be an old model but it sews marvellously. We now have an
                    Alsatian pup as well as Joseph the donkey and the two cats.

                    Marjorie had a midnight encounter with Joseph which gave her quite a shock but
                    we had a good laugh about it next day. Some months ago George replaced our wattle
                    and daub outside pit lavatory by a substantial brick one, so large that Joseph is being
                    temporarily stabled in it at night. We neglected to warn Marj about this and one night,
                    storm lamp in hand, she opened the door and Joseph walked out braying his thanks.
                    I am afraid Marjorie is having a quiet time, a shame when the journey from Cape
                    Town is so expensive. The doctor has told me to rest as much as I can, so it is
                    impossible for us to take Marj on sight seeing trips.

                    I hate to think that she will be leaving in ten days time.

                    Much love,

                    Mchewe Estate. 18th February 1935

                    Dearest Family,

                    You must be able to visualise our life here quite well now that Marj is back and
                    has no doubt filled in all the details I forget to mention in my letters. What a journey we
                    had in the A.C. when we took her to the plane. George, the children and I sat in front and
                    Marj sat behind with numerous four gallon tins of water for the insatiable radiator. It was
                    raining and the canvas hood was up but part of the side flaps are missing and as there is
                    no glass in the windscreen the rain blew in on us. George got fed up with constantly
                    removing the hot radiator cap so simply stuffed a bit of rag in instead. When enough
                    steam had built up in the radiator behind the rag it blew out and we started all over again.
                    The car still roars like an aeroplane engine and yet has little power so that George sent
                    gangs of boys to the steep hills between the farm and the Mission to give us a push if
                    necessary. Fortunately this time it was not, and the boys cheered us on our way. We
                    needed their help on the homeward journey however.

                    George has now bought an old Chev engine which he means to install before I
                    have to go to hospital to have my new baby. It will be quite an engineering feet as
                    George has few tools.

                    I am sorry to say that I am still not well, something to do with kidneys or bladder.
                    George bought me some pills from one of the several small shops which have opened
                    in Mbeya and Ann is most interested in the result. She said seriously to Kath Wood,
                    “Oh my Mummy is a very clever Mummy. She can do blue wee and green wee as well
                    as yellow wee.” I simply can no longer manage the children without help and have
                    engaged the cook’s wife, Janey, to help. The children are by no means thrilled. I plead in
                    vain that I am not well enough to go for walks. Ann says firmly, “Ann doesn’t want to go
                    for a walk. Ann will look after you.” Funny, though she speaks well for a three year old,
                    she never uses the first person. Georgie say he would much rather walk with
                    Keshokutwa, the kitchen boy. His name by the way, means day-after-tomorrow and it
                    suits him down to the ground, Kath Wood walks over sometimes with offers of help and Ann will gladly go walking with her but Georgie won’t. He on the other hand will walk with Anne Molteno
                    and Ann won’t. They are obstinate kids. Ann has developed a very fertile imagination.
                    She has probably been looking at too many of those nice women’s magazines you
                    sent. A few days ago she said, “You are sick Mummy, but Ann’s got another Mummy.
                    She’s not sick, and my other mummy (very smugly) has lovely golden hair”. This
                    morning’ not ten minutes after I had dressed her, she came in with her frock wet and
                    muddy. I said in exasperation, “Oh Ann, you are naughty.” To which she instantly
                    returned, “My other Mummy doesn’t think I am naughty. She thinks I am very nice.” It
                    strikes me I shall have to get better soon so that I can be gay once more and compete
                    with that phantom golden haired paragon.

                    We had a very heavy storm over the farm last week. There was heavy rain with
                    hail which stripped some of the coffee trees and the Mchewe River flooded and the
                    water swept through the lower part of the shamba. After the water had receded George
                    picked up a fine young trout which had been stranded. This was one of some he had
                    put into the river when Georgie was a few months old.

                    The trials of a coffee farmer are legion. We now have a plague of snails. They
                    ring bark the young trees and leave trails of slime on the glossy leaves. All the ring
                    barked trees will have to be cut right back and this is heartbreaking as they are bearing
                    berries for the first time. The snails are collected by native children, piled upon the
                    ground and bashed to a pulp which gives off a sickening stench. I am sorry for the local
                    Africans. Locusts ate up their maize and now they are losing their bean crop to the snails.

                    Lots of love, Eleanor


                      From Tanganyika with Love

                      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                      • “The letters of Eleanor Dunbar Leslie to her parents and her sister in South Africa
                        concerning her life with George Gilman Rushby of Tanganyika, and the trials and
                        joys of bringing up a family in pioneering conditions.

                      These letters were transcribed from copies of letters typed by Eleanor Rushby from
                      the originals which were in the estate of Marjorie Leslie, Eleanor’s sister. Eleanor
                      kept no diary of her life in Tanganyika, so these letters were the living record of an
                      important part of her life.

                      Having walked across Africa from the East coast to Ubangi Shauri Chad
                      in French Equatorial Africa, hunting elephant all the way, George Rushby
                      made his way down the Congo to Leopoldville. He then caught a ship to
                      Europe and had a holiday in Brussels and Paris before visiting his family
                      in England. He developed blackwater fever and was extremely ill for a
                      while. When he recovered he went to London to arrange his return to

                      Whilst staying at the Overseas Club he met Eileen Graham who had come
                      to England from Cape Town to study music. On hearing that George was
                      sailing for Cape Town she arranged to introduce him to her friend
                      Eleanor Dunbar Leslie. “You’ll need someone lively to show you around,”
                      she said. “She’s as smart as paint, a keen mountaineer, a very good school
                      teacher, and she’s attractive. You can’t miss her, because her father is a
                      well known Cape Town Magistrate. And,” she added “I’ve already written
                      and told her what ship you are arriving on.”

                      Eleanor duly met the ship. She and George immediately fell in love.
                      Within thirty six hours he had proposed marriage and was accepted
                      despite the misgivings of her parents. As she was under contract to her
                      High School, she remained in South Africa for several months whilst
                      George headed for Tanganyika looking for a farm where he could build
                      their home.

                      These details are a summary of chapter thirteen of the Biography of
                      George Gilman Rushby ‘The Hunter is Death “ by T.V.Bulpin.


                      Dearest Marj,
                      Terrifically exciting news! I’ve just become engaged to an Englishman whom I
                      met last Monday. The result is a family upheaval which you will have no difficulty in

                      The Aunts think it all highly romantic and cry in delight “Now isn’t that just like our
                      El!” Mummy says she doesn’t know what to think, that anyway I was always a harum
                      scarum and she rather expected something like this to happen. However I know that
                      she thinks George highly attractive. “Such a nice smile and gentle manner, and such
                      good hands“ she murmurs appreciatively. “But WHY AN ELEPHANT HUNTER?” she
                      ends in a wail, as though elephant hunting was an unmentionable profession.
                      Anyway I don’t think so. Anyone can marry a bank clerk or a lawyer or even a
                      millionaire – but whoever heard of anyone marrying anyone as exciting as an elephant
                      hunter? I’m thrilled to bits.

                      Daddy also takes a dim view of George’s profession, and of George himself as
                      a husband for me. He says that I am so impulsive and have such wild enthusiasms that I
                      need someone conservative and steady to give me some serenity and some ballast.
                      Dad says George is a handsome fellow and a good enough chap he is sure, but
                      he is obviously a man of the world and hints darkly at a possible PAST. George says
                      he has nothing of the kind and anyway I’m the first girl he has asked to marry him. I don’t
                      care anyway, I’d gladly marry him tomorrow, but Dad has other ideas.

                      He sat in his armchair to deliver his verdict, wearing the same look he must wear
                      on the bench. If we marry, and he doesn’t think it would be a good thing, George must
                      buy a comfortable house for me in Central Africa where I can stay safely when he goes
                      hunting. I interrupted to say “But I’m going too”, but dad snubbed me saying that in no
                      time at all I’ll have a family and one can’t go dragging babies around in the African Bush.”
                      George takes his lectures with surprising calm. He says he can see Dad’s point of
                      view much better than I can. He told the parents today that he plans to buy a small
                      coffee farm in the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika and will build a cosy cottage which
                      will be a proper home for both of us, and that he will only hunt occasionally to keep the
                      pot boiling.

                      Mummy, of course, just had to spill the beans. She said to George, “I suppose
                      you know that Eleanor knows very little about house keeping and can’t cook at all.” a fact
                      that I was keeping a dark secret. But George just said, “Oh she won’t have to work. The
                      boys do all that sort of thing. She can lie on a couch all day and read if she likes.” Well
                      you always did say that I was a “Lily of the field,” and what a good thing! If I were one of
                      those terribly capable women I’d probably die of frustration because it seems that
                      African house boys feel that they have lost face if their Memsahibs do anything but the
                      most gracious chores.

                      George is absolutely marvellous. He is strong and gentle and awfully good
                      looking too. He is about 5 ft 10 ins tall and very broad. He wears his curly brown hair cut
                      very short and has a close clipped moustache. He has strongly marked eyebrows and
                      very striking blue eyes which sometimes turn grey or green. His teeth are strong and
                      even and he has a quiet voice.

                      I expect all this sounds too good to be true, but come home quickly and see for
                      yourself. George is off to East Africa in three weeks time to buy our farm. I shall follow as
                      soon as he has bought it and we will be married in Dar es Salaam.

                      Dad has taken George for a walk “to get to know him” and that’s why I have time
                      to write such a long screed. They should be back any minute now and I must fly and
                      apply a bit of glamour.

                      Much love my dear,
                      your jubilant

                      S.S.Timavo. Durban. 28th.October. 1930.

                      Dearest Family,
                      Thank you for the lovely send off. I do wish you were all on board with me and
                      could come and dance with me at my wedding. We are having a very comfortable
                      voyage. There were only four of the passengers as far as Durban, all of them women,
                      but I believe we are taking on more here. I have a most comfortable deck cabin to
                      myself and the use of a sumptuous bathroom. No one is interested in deck games and I
                      am having a lazy time, just sunbathing and reading.

                      I sit at the Captain’s table and the meals are delicious – beautifully served. The
                      butter for instance, is moulded into sprays of roses, most exquisitely done, and as for
                      the ice-cream, I’ve never tasted anything like them.

                      The meals are continental type and we have hors d’oeuvre in a great variety
                      served on large round trays. The Italians souse theirs with oil, Ugh! We also of course
                      get lots of spaghetti which I have some difficulty in eating. However this presents no
                      problem to the Chief Engineer who sits opposite to me. He simply rolls it around his
                      fork and somehow the spaghetti flows effortlessly from fork to mouth exactly like an
                      ascending escalator. Wine is served at lunch and dinner – very mild and pleasant stuff.
                      Of the women passengers the one i liked best was a young German widow
                      from South west Africa who left the ship at East London to marry a man she had never
                      met. She told me he owned a drapers shop and she was very happy at the prospect
                      of starting a new life, as her previous marriage had ended tragically with the death of her
                      husband and only child in an accident.

                      I was most interested to see the bridegroom and stood at the rail beside the gay
                      young widow when we docked at East London. I picked him out, without any difficulty,
                      from the small group on the quay. He was a tall thin man in a smart grey suit and with a
                      grey hat perched primly on his head. You can always tell from hats can’t you? I wasn’t
                      surprised to see, when this German raised his head, that he looked just like the Kaiser’s
                      “Little Willie”. Long thin nose and cold grey eyes and no smile of welcome on his tight
                      mouth for the cheery little body beside me. I quite expected him to jerk his thumb and
                      stalk off, expecting her to trot at his heel.

                      However she went off blithely enough. Next day before the ship sailed, she
                      was back and I saw her talking to the Captain. She began to cry and soon after the
                      Captain patted her on the shoulder and escorted her to the gangway. Later the Captain
                      told me that the girl had come to ask him to allow her to work her passage back to
                      Germany where she had some relations. She had married the man the day before but
                      she disliked him because he had deceived her by pretending that he owned a shop
                      whereas he was only a window dresser. Bad show for both.

                      The Captain and the Chief Engineer are the only officers who mix socially with
                      the passengers. The captain seems rather a melancholy type with, I should say, no
                      sense of humour. He speaks fair English with an American accent. He tells me that he
                      was on the San Francisco run during Prohibition years in America and saw many Film
                      Stars chiefly “under the influence” as they used to flock on board to drink. The Chief
                      Engineer is big and fat and cheerful. His English is anything but fluent but he makes up
                      for it in mime.

                      I visited the relations and friends at Port Elizabeth and East London, and here at
                      Durban. I stayed with the Trotters and Swans and enjoyed myself very much at both
                      places. I have collected numerous wedding presents, china and cutlery, coffee
                      percolator and ornaments, and where I shall pack all these things I don’t know. Everyone has been terribly kind and I feel extremely well and happy.

                      At the start of the voyage I had a bit of bad luck. You will remember that a
                      perfectly foul South Easter was blowing. Some men were busy working on a deck
                      engine and I stopped to watch and a tiny fragment of steel blew into my eye. There is
                      no doctor on board so the stewardess put some oil into the eye and bandaged it up.
                      The eye grew more and more painful and inflamed and when when we reached Port
                      Elizabeth the Captain asked the Port Doctor to look at it. The Doctor said it was a job for
                      an eye specialist and telephoned from the ship to make an appointment. Luckily for me,
                      Vincent Tofts turned up at the ship just then and took me off to the specialist and waited
                      whilst he extracted the fragment with a giant magnet. The specialist said that I was very
                      lucky as the thing just missed the pupil of my eye so my sight will not be affected. I was
                      temporarily blinded by the Belladona the eye-man put in my eye so he fitted me with a
                      pair of black goggles and Vincent escorted me back to the ship. Don’t worry the eye is
                      now as good as ever and George will not have to take a one-eyed bride for better or

                      I have one worry and that is that the ship is going to be very much overdue by
                      the time we reach Dar es Salaam. She is taking on a big wool cargo and we were held
                      up for three days in East london and have been here in Durban for five days.
                      Today is the ninth Anniversary of the Fascist Movement and the ship was
                      dressed with bunting and flags. I must now go and dress for the gala dinner.

                      Bless you all,

                      S.S.Timavo. 6th. November 1930

                      Dearest Family,

                      Nearly there now. We called in at Lourenco Marques, Beira, Mozambique and
                      Port Amelia. I was the only one of the original passengers left after Durban but there we
                      took on a Mrs Croxford and her mother and two men passengers. Mrs C must have
                      something, certainly not looks. She has a flat figure, heavily mascared eyes and crooked
                      mouth thickly coated with lipstick. But her rather sweet old mother-black-pearls-type tells
                      me they are worn out travelling around the world trying to shake off an admirer who
                      pursues Mrs C everywhere.

                      The one male passenger is very quiet and pleasant. The old lady tells me that he
                      has recently lost his wife. The other passenger is a horribly bumptious type.
                      I had my hair beautifully shingled at Lourenco Marques, but what an experience it
                      was. Before we docked I asked the Captain whether he knew of a hairdresser, but he
                      said he did not and would have to ask the agent when he came aboard. The agent was
                      a very suave Asian. He said “Sure he did” and offered to take me in his car. I rather
                      doubtfully agreed — such a swarthy gentleman — and was driven, not to a hairdressing
                      establishment, but to his office. Then he spoke to someone on the telephone and in no
                      time at all a most dago-y type arrived carrying a little black bag. He was all patent
                      leather, hair, and flashing smile, and greeted me like an old and valued friend.
                      Before I had collected my scattered wits tthe Agent had flung open a door and
                      ushered me through, and I found myself seated before an ornate mirror in what was only
                      too obviously a bedroom. It was a bedroom with a difference though. The unmade bed
                      had no legs but hung from the ceiling on brass chains.

                      The agent beamingly shut the door behind him and I was left with my imagination
                      and the afore mentioned oily hairdresser. He however was very business like. Before I
                      could say knife he had shingled my hair with a cut throat razor and then, before I could
                      protest, had smothered my neck in stinking pink powder applied with an enormous and
                      filthy swansdown powder puff. He held up a mirror for me to admire his handiwork but I
                      was aware only of the enormous bed reflected in it, and hurriedly murmuring “very nice,
                      very nice” I made my escape to the outer office where, to my relief, I found the Chief
                      Engineer who escorted me back to the ship.

                      In the afternoon Mrs Coxford and the old lady and I hired a taxi and went to the
                      Polana Hotel for tea. Very swish but I like our Cape Peninsula beaches better.
                      At Lorenco Marques we took on more passengers. The Governor of
                      Portuguese Nyasaland and his wife and baby son. He was a large middle aged man,
                      very friendly and unassuming and spoke perfect English. His wife was German and
                      exquisite, as fragile looking and with the delicate colouring of a Dresden figurine. She
                      looked about 18 but she told me she was 28 and showed me photographs of two
                      other sons – hefty youngsters, whom she had left behind in Portugal and was missing
                      very much.

                      It was frightfully hot at Beira and as I had no money left I did not go up to the
                      town, but Mrs Croxford and I spent a pleasant hour on the beach under the Casurina

                      The Governor and his wife left the ship at Mozambique. He looked very
                      imposing in his starched uniform and she more Dresden Sheperdish than ever in a
                      flowered frock. There was a guard of honour and all the trimmings. They bade me a warm farewell and invited George and me to stay at any time.

                      The German ship “Watussi” was anchored in the Bay and I decided to visit her
                      and try and have my hair washed and set. I had no sooner stepped on board when a
                      lady came up to me and said “Surely you are Beeba Leslie.” It was Mrs Egan and she
                      had Molly with her. Considering Mrs Egan had not seen me since I was five I think it was
                      jolly clever of her to recognise me. Molly is charming and was most friendly. She fixed
                      things with the hairdresser and sat with me until the job was done. Afterwards I had tea
                      with them.

                      Port Amelia was our last stop. In fact the only person to go ashore was Mr
                      Taylor, the unpleasant man, and he returned at sunset very drunk indeed.
                      We reached Port Amelia on the 3rd – my birthday. The boat had anchored by
                      the time I was dressed and when I went on deck I saw several row boats cluttered
                      around the gangway and in them were natives with cages of wild birds for sale. Such tiny
                      crowded cages. I was furious, you know me. I bought three cages, carried them out on
                      to the open deck and released the birds. I expected them to fly to the land but they flew
                      straight up into the rigging.

                      The quiet male passenger wandered up and asked me what I was doing. I said
                      “I’m giving myself a birthday treat, I hate to see caged birds.” So next thing there he
                      was buying birds which he presented to me with “Happy Birthday.” I gladly set those
                      birds free too and they joined the others in the rigging.

                      Then a grinning steward came up with three more cages. “For the lady with
                      compliments of the Captain.” They lost no time in joining their friends.
                      It had given me so much pleasure to free the birds that I was only a little
                      discouraged when the quiet man said thoughtfully “This should encourage those bird
                      catchers you know, they are sold out. When evening came and we were due to sail I
                      was sure those birds would fly home, but no, they are still there and they will probably
                      remain until we dock at Dar es Salaam.

                      During the morning the Captain came up and asked me what my Christian name
                      is. He looked as grave as ever and I couldn’t think why it should interest him but said “the
                      name is Eleanor.” That night at dinner there was a large iced cake in the centre of the
                      table with “HELENA” in a delicate wreath of pink icing roses on the top. We had
                      champagne and everyone congratulated me and wished me good luck in my marriage.
                      A very nice gesture don’t you think. The unpleasant character had not put in an
                      appearance at dinner which made the party all the nicer

                      I sat up rather late in the lounge reading a book and by the time I went to bed
                      there was not a soul around. I bathed and changed into my nighty,walked into my cabin,
                      shed my dressing gown, and pottered around. When I was ready for bed I put out my
                      hand to draw the curtains back and a hand grasped my wrist. It was that wretched
                      creature outside my window on the deck, still very drunk. Luckily I was wearing that
                      heavy lilac silk nighty. I was livid. “Let go at once”, I said, but he only grinned stupidly.
                      “I’m not hurting you” he said, “only looking”. “I’ll ring for the steward” said I, and by
                      stretching I managed to press the bell with my free hand. I rang and rang but no one
                      came and he just giggled. Then I said furiously, “Remember this name, George
                      Rushby, he is a fine boxer and he hates specimens like you. When he meets me at Dar
                      es Salaam I shall tell him about this and I bet you will be sorry.” However he still held on
                      so I turned and knocked hard on the adjoining wall which divided my cabin from Mrs
                      Croxfords. Soon Mrs Croxford and the old lady appeared in dressing gowns . This
                      seemed to amuse the drunk even more though he let go my wrist. So whilst the old
                      lady stayed with me, Mrs C fetched the quiet passenger who soon hustled him off. He has kept out of my way ever since. However I still mean to tell George because I feel
                      the fellow got off far too lightly. I reported the matter to the Captain but he just remarked
                      that he always knew the man was low class because he never wears a jacket to meals.
                      This is my last night on board and we again had free champagne and I was given
                      some tooled leather work by the Captain and a pair of good paste earrings by the old
                      lady. I have invited them and Mrs Croxford, the Chief Engineer, and the quiet
                      passenger to the wedding.

                      This may be my last night as Eleanor Leslie and I have spent this long while
                      writing to you just as a little token of my affection and gratitude for all the years of your
                      love and care. I shall post this letter on the ship and must turn now and get some beauty
                      sleep. We have been told that we shall be in Dar es Salaam by 9 am. I am so excited
                      that I shall not sleep.

                      Very much love, and just for fun I’ll sign my full name for the last time.
                      with my “bes respeks”,

                      Eleanor Leslie.

                      Eleanor and George Rushby:

                      Eleanor and George Rushby

                      Splendid Hotel, Dar es Salaam 11th November 1930

                      Dearest Family,

                      I’m writing this in the bedroom whilst George is out buying a tin trunk in which to
                      pack all our wedding presents. I expect he will be gone a long time because he has
                      gone out with Hicky Wood and, though our wedding was four days ago, it’s still an
                      excuse for a party. People are all very cheery and friendly here.
                      I am wearing only pants and slip but am still hot. One swelters here in the
                      mornings, but a fresh sea breeze blows in the late afternoons and then Dar es Salaam is

                      We arrived in Dar es Salaam harbour very early on Friday morning (7 th Nov).
                      The previous night the Captain had said we might not reach Dar. until 9 am, and certainly
                      no one would be allowed on board before 8 am. So I dawdled on the deck in my
                      dressing gown and watched the green coastline and the islands slipping by. I stood on
                      the deck outside my cabin and was not aware that I was looking out at the wrong side of
                      the landlocked harbour. Quite unknown to me George and some friends, the Hickson
                      Woods, were standing on the Gymkhana Beach on the opposite side of the channel
                      anxiously scanning the ship for a sign of me. George says he had a horrible idea I had
                      missed the ship. Blissfully unconscious of his anxiety I wandered into the bathroom
                      prepared for a good soak. The anchor went down when I was in the bath and suddenly
                      there was a sharp wrap on the door and I heard Mrs Croxford say “There’s a man in a
                      boat outside. He is looking out for someone and I’m sure it’s your George. I flung on
                      some clothes and rushed on deck with tousled hair and bare feet and it was George.
                      We had a marvellous reunion. George was wearing shorts and bush shirt and
                      looked just like the strong silent types one reads about in novels. I finished dressing then
                      George helped me bundle all the wedding presents I had collected en route into my
                      travelling rug and we went into the bar lounge to join the Hickson Woods. They are the
                      couple from whom George bought the land which is to be our coffee farm Hicky-Wood
                      was laughing when we joined them. he said he had called a chap to bring a couple of
                      beers thinking he was the steward but it turned out to be the Captain. He does wear
                      such a very plain uniform that I suppose it was easy to make the mistake, but Hicky
                      says he was not amused.

                      Anyway as the H-W’s are to be our neighbours I’d better describe them. Kath
                      Wood is very attractive, dark Irish, with curly black hair and big brown eyes. She was
                      married before to Viv Lumb a great friend of George’s who died some years ago of
                      blackwater fever. They had one little girl, Maureen, and Kath and Hicky have a small son
                      of three called Michael. Hicky is slightly below average height and very neat and dapper
                      though well built. He is a great one for a party and good fun but George says he can be
                      bad tempered.

                      Anyway we all filed off the ship and Hicky and Cath went on to the hotel whilst
                      George and I went through customs. Passing the customs was easy. Everyone
                      seemed to know George and that it was his wedding day and I just sailed through,
                      except for the little matter of the rug coming undone when George and I had to scramble
                      on the floor for candlesticks and fruit knives and a wooden nut bowl.
                      Outside the customs shed we were mobbed by a crowd of jabbering Africans
                      offering their services as porters, and soon my luggage was piled in one rickshaw whilst
                      George and I climbed into another and we were born smoothly away on rubber shod
                      wheels to the Splendid Hotel. The motion was pleasing enough but it seemed weird to
                      be pulled along by one human being whilst another pushed behind.  We turned up a street called Acacia Avenue which, as its name implies, is lined
                      with flamboyant acacia trees now in the full glory of scarlet and gold. The rickshaw
                      stopped before the Splendid Hotel and I was taken upstairs into a pleasant room which
                      had its own private balcony overlooking the busy street.

                      Here George broke the news that we were to be married in less than an hours
                      time. He would have to dash off and change and then go straight to the church. I would
                      be quite all right, Kath would be looking in and friends would fetch me.
                      I started to dress and soon there was a tap at the door and Mrs Hickson-Wood
                      came in with my bouquet. It was a lovely bunch of carnations and frangipani with lots of
                      asparagus fern and it went well with my primrose yellow frock. She admired my frock
                      and Leghorn hat and told me that her little girl Maureen was to be my flower girl. Then
                      she too left for the church.

                      I was fully dressed when there was another knock on the door and I opened it to
                      be confronted by a Police Officer in a starched white uniform. I’m McCallum”, he said,
                      “I’ve come to drive you to the church.” Downstairs he introduced me to a big man in a
                      tussore silk suit. “This is Dr Shicore”, said McCallum, “He is going to give you away.”
                      Honestly, I felt exactly like Alice in Wonderland. Wouldn’t have been at all surprised if
                      the White Rabbit had popped up and said he was going to be my page.

                      I walked out of the hotel and across the pavement in a dream and there, by the
                      curb, was a big dark blue police car decorated with white ribbons and with a tall African
                      Police Ascari holding the door open for me. I had hardly time to wonder what next when
                      the car drew up before a tall German looking church. It was in fact the Lutheran Church in
                      the days when Tanganyika was German East Africa.

                      Mrs Hickson-Wood, very smart in mushroom coloured georgette and lace, and
                      her small daughter were waiting in the porch, so in we went. I was glad to notice my
                      friends from the boat sitting behind George’s friends who were all complete strangers to
                      me. The aisle seemed very long but at last I reached George waiting in the chancel with
                      Hicky-Wood, looking unfamiliar in a smart tussore suit. However this feeling of unreality
                      passed when he turned his head and smiled at me.

                      In the vestry after the ceremony I was kissed affectionately by several complete
                      strangers and I felt happy and accepted by George’s friends. Outside the church,
                      standing apart from the rest of the guests, the Italian Captain and Chief Engineer were
                      waiting. They came up and kissed my hand, and murmured felicitations, but regretted
                      they could not spare the time to come to the reception. Really it was just as well
                      because they would not have fitted in at all well.

                      Dr Shircore is the Director of Medical Services and he had very kindly lent his
                      large house for the reception. It was quite a party. The guests were mainly men with a
                      small sprinkling of wives. Champagne corks popped and there was an enormous cake
                      and soon voices were raised in song. The chief one was ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’
                      and I shall remember it for ever.

                      The party was still in full swing when George and I left. The old lady from the ship
                      enjoyed it hugely. She came in an all black outfit with a corsage of artificial Lily-of-the-
                      Valley. Later I saw one of the men wearing the corsage in his buttonhole and the old
                      lady was wearing a carnation.

                      When George and I got back to the hotel,I found that my luggage had been
                      moved to George’s room by his cook Lamek, who was squatting on his haunches and
                      clapped his hands in greeting. My dears, you should see Lamek – exactly like a
                      chimpanzee – receding forehead, wide flat nose, and long lip, and such splayed feet. It was quite a strain not to laugh, especially when he produced a gift for me. I have not yet
                      discovered where he acquired it. It was a faded mauve straw toque of the kind worn by
                      Queen Mary. I asked George to tell Lamek that I was touched by his generosity but felt
                      that I could not accept his gift. He did not mind at all especially as George gave him a
                      generous tip there and then.

                      I changed into a cotton frock and shady straw hat and George changed into shorts
                      and bush shirt once more. We then sneaked into the dining room for lunch avoiding our
                      wedding guests who were carrying on the party in the lounge.

                      After lunch we rejoined them and they all came down to the jetty to wave goodbye
                      as we set out by motor launch for Honeymoon Island. I enjoyed the launch trip very
                      much. The sea was calm and very blue and the palm fringed beaches of Dar es Salaam
                      are as romantic as any bride could wish. There are small coral islands dotted around the
                      Bay of which Honeymoon Island is the loveliest. I believe at one time it bore the less
                      romantic name of Quarantine Island. Near the Island, in the shallows, the sea is brilliant
                      green and I saw two pink jellyfish drifting by.

                      There is no jetty on the island so the boat was stopped in shallow water and
                      George carried me ashore. I was enchanted with the Island and in no hurry to go to the
                      bungalow, so George and I took our bathing costumes from our suitcases and sent the
                      luggage up to the house together with a box of provisions.

                      We bathed and lazed on the beach and suddenly it was sunset and it began to
                      get dark. We walked up the beach to the bungalow and began to unpack the stores,
                      tea, sugar, condensed milk, bread and butter, sardines and a large tin of ham. There
                      were also cups and saucers and plates and cutlery.

                      We decided to have an early meal and George called out to the caretaker, “Boy
                      letta chai”. Thereupon the ‘boy’ materialised and jabbered to George in Ki-Swaheli. It
                      appeared he had no utensil in which to boil water. George, ever resourceful, removed
                      the ham from the tin and gave him that. We had our tea all right but next day the ham
                      was bad.

                      Then came bed time. I took a hurricane lamp in one hand and my suitcase in the
                      other and wandered into the bedroom whilst George vanished into the bathroom. To
                      my astonishment I saw two perfectly bare iron bedsteads – no mattress or pillows. We
                      had brought sheets and mosquito nets but, believe me, they are a poor substitute for a

                      Anyway I arrayed myself in my pale yellow satin nightie and sat gingerly down
                      on the iron edge of the bed to await my groom who eventually appeared in a
                      handsome suit of silk pyjamas. His expression, as he took in the situation, was too much
                      for me and I burst out laughing and so did he.

                      Somewhere in the small hours I woke up. The breeze had dropped and the
                      room was unbearably stuffy. I felt as dry as a bone. The lamp had been turned very
                      low and had gone out, but I remembered seeing a water tank in the yard and I decided
                      to go out in the dark and drink from the tap. In the dark I could not find my slippers so I
                      slipped my feet into George’s shoes, picked up his matches and groped my way out
                      of the room. I found the tank all right and with one hand on the tap and one cupped for
                      water I stooped to drink. Just then I heard a scratchy noise and sensed movements
                      around my feet. I struck a match and oh horrors! found that the damp spot on which I was
                      standing was alive with white crabs. In my hurry to escape I took a clumsy step, put
                      George’s big toe on the hem of my nightie and down I went on top of the crabs. I need
                      hardly say that George was awakened by an appalling shriek and came rushing to my
                      aid like a knight of old.  Anyway, alarms and excursions not withstanding, we had a wonderful weekend on the island and I was sorry to return to the heat of Dar es Salaam, though the evenings
                      here are lovely and it is heavenly driving along the coast road by car or in a rickshaw.
                      I was surprised to find so many Indians here. Most of the shops, large and small,
                      seem to be owned by Indians and the place teems with them. The women wear
                      colourful saris and their hair in long black plaits reaching to their waists. Many wear baggy
                      trousers of silk or satin. They give a carnival air to the sea front towards sunset.
                      This long letter has been written in instalments throughout the day. My first break
                      was when I heard the sound of a band and rushed to the balcony in time to see The
                      Kings African Rifles band and Askaris march down the Avenue on their way to an
                      Armistice Memorial Service. They looked magnificent.

                      I must end on a note of most primitive pride. George returned from his shopping
                      expedition and beamingly informed me that he had thrashed the man who annoyed me
                      on the ship. I felt extremely delighted and pressed for details. George told me that
                      when he went out shopping he noticed to his surprise that the ‘Timavo” was still in the
                      harbour. He went across to the Agents office and there saw a man who answered to the
                      description I had given. George said to him “Is your name Taylor?”, and when he said
                      “yes”, George said “Well my name is George Rushby”, whereupon he hit Taylor on the
                      jaw so that he sailed over the counter and down the other side. Very satisfactory, I feel.
                      With much love to all.

                      Your cave woman

                      Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 22 November 1930

                      Dearest Family,

                      Well here we are at our Country Seat, Mchewe Estate. (pronounced
                      Mn,-che’-we) but I will start at the beginning of our journey and describe the farm later.
                      We left the hotel at Dar es Salaam for the station in a taxi crowded with baggage
                      and at the last moment Keith Wood ran out with the unwrapped bottom layer of our
                      wedding cake. It remained in its naked state from there to here travelling for two days in
                      the train on the luggage rack, four days in the car on my knee, reposing at night on the
                      roof of the car exposed to the winds of Heaven, and now rests beside me in the tent
                      looking like an old old tombstone. We have no tin large enough to hold it and one
                      simply can’t throw away ones wedding cake so, as George does not eat cake, I can see
                      myself eating wedding cake for tea for months to come, ants permitting.

                      We travelled up by train from Dar to Dodoma, first through the lush vegetation of
                      the coastal belt to Morogoro, then through sisal plantations now very overgrown with
                      weeds owing to the slump in prices, and then on to the arid area around Dodoma. This
                      part of the country is very dry at this time of the year and not unlike parts of our Karoo.
                      The train journey was comfortable enough but slow as the engines here are fed with
                      wood and not coal as in South Africa.

                      Dodoma is the nearest point on the railway to Mbeya so we left the train there to
                      continue our journey by road. We arrived at the one and only hotel in the early hours and
                      whilst someone went to rout out the night watchman the rest of us sat on the dismal
                      verandah amongst a litter of broken glass. Some bright spark remarked on the obvious –
                      that there had been a party the night before.

                      When we were shown to a room I thought I rather preferred the verandah,
                      because the beds had not yet been made up and there was a bucket of vomit beside
                      the old fashioned washstand. However George soon got the boys to clean up the
                      room and I fell asleep to be awakened by George with an invitation to come and see
                      our car before breakfast.

                      Yes, we have our own car. It is a Chev, with what is called a box body. That
                      means that sides, roof and doors are made by a local Indian carpenter. There is just the
                      one front seat with a kapok mattress on it. The tools are kept in a sort of cupboard fixed
                      to the side so there is a big space for carrying “safari kit” behind the cab seat.
                      Lamek, who had travelled up on the same train, appeared after breakfast, and
                      helped George to pack all our luggage into the back of the car. Besides our suitcases
                      there was a huge bedroll, kitchen utensils and a box of provisions, tins of petrol and
                      water and all Lamek’s bits and pieces which included three chickens in a wicker cage and
                      an enormous bunch of bananas about 3 ft long.

                      When all theses things were packed there remained only a small space between
                      goods and ceiling and into this Lamek squeezed. He lay on his back with his horny feet a
                      mere inch or so from the back of my head. In this way we travelled 400 miles over
                      bumpy earth roads and crude pole bridges, but whenever we stopped for a meal
                      Lamek wriggled out and, like Aladdin’s genie, produced good meals in no time at all.
                      In the afternoon we reached a large river called the Ruaha. Workmen were busy
                      building a large bridge across it but it is not yet ready so we crossed by a ford below
                      the bridge. George told me that the river was full of crocodiles but though I looked hard, I
                      did not see any. This is also elephant country but I did not see any of those either, only
                      piles of droppings on the road. I must tell you that the natives around these parts are called Wahehe and the river is Ruaha – enough to make a cat laugh. We saw some Wahehe out hunting with spears
                      and bows and arrows. They live in long low houses with the tiniest shuttered windows
                      and rounded roofs covered with earth.

                      Near the river we also saw a few Masai herding cattle. They are rather terrifying to
                      look at – tall, angular, and very aloof. They wear nothing but a blanket knotted on one
                      shoulder, concealing nothing, and all carried one or two spears.
                      The road climbs steeply on the far side of the Ruaha and one has the most
                      tremendous views over the plains. We spent our first night up there in the high country.
                      Everything was taken out of the car, the bed roll opened up and George and I slept
                      comfortably in the back of the car whilst Lamek, rolled in a blanket, slept soundly by a
                      small fire nearby. Next morning we reached our first township, Iringa, and put up at the
                      Colonist Hotel. We had a comfortable room in the annex overlooking the golf course.
                      our room had its own little dressing room which was also the bathroom because, when
                      ordered to do so, the room boy carried in an oval galvanised bath and filled it with hot
                      water which he carried in a four gallon petrol tin.

                      When we crossed to the main building for lunch, George was immediately hailed
                      by several men who wanted to meet the bride. I was paid some handsome
                      compliments but was not sure whether they were sincere or the result of a nice alcoholic
                      glow. Anyhow every one was very friendly.

                      After lunch I went back to the bedroom leaving George chatting away. I waited and
                      waited – no George. I got awfully tired of waiting and thought I’d give him a fright so I
                      walked out onto the deserted golf course and hid behind some large boulders. Soon I
                      saw George returning to the room and the boy followed with a tea tray. Ah, now the hue
                      and cry will start, thought I, but no, no George appeared nor could I hear any despairing
                      cry. When sunset came I trailed crossly back to our hotel room where George lay
                      innocently asleep on his bed, hands folded on his chest like a crusader on his tomb. In a
                      moment he opened his eyes, smiled sleepily and said kindly, “Did you have a nice walk
                      my love?” So of course I couldn’t play the neglected wife as he obviously didn’t think
                      me one and we had a very pleasant dinner and party in the hotel that evening.
                      Next day we continued our journey but turned aside to visit the farm of a sprightly
                      old man named St.Leger Seaton whom George had known for many years, so it was
                      after dark before George decided that we had covered our quota of miles for the day.
                      Whilst he and Lamek unpacked I wandered off to a stream to cool my hot feet which had
                      baked all day on the floor boards of the car. In the rather dim moonlight I sat down on the
                      grassy bank and gratefully dabbled my feet in the cold water. A few minutes later I
                      started up with a shriek – I had the sensation of red hot pins being dug into all my most
                      sensitive parts. I started clawing my clothes off and, by the time George came to the
                      rescue with the lamp, I was practically in the nude. “Only Siafu ants,” said George calmly.
                      Take off all your clothes and get right in the water.” So I had a bathe whilst George
                      picked the ants off my clothes by the light of the lamp turned very low for modesty’s
                      sake. Siafu ants are beastly things. They are black ants with outsized heads and
                      pinchers. I shall be very, very careful where I sit in future.

                      The next day was even hotter. There was no great variety in the scenery. Most
                      of the country was covered by a tree called Miombo, which is very ordinary when the
                      foliage is a mature deep green, but when in new leaf the trees look absolutely beautiful
                      as the leaves,surprisingly, are soft pastel shades of red and yellow.

                      Once again we turned aside from the main road to visit one of George’s friends.
                      This man Major Hugh Jones MC, has a farm only a few miles from ours but just now he is supervising the making of an airstrip. Major Jones is quite a character. He is below
                      average height and skinny with an almost bald head and one nearly blind eye into which
                      he screws a monocle. He is a cultured person and will, I am sure, make an interesting
                      neighbour. George and Major Jones’ friends call him ‘Joni’ but he is generally known in
                      this country as ‘Ropesoles’ – as he is partial to that type of footwear.
                      We passed through Mbeya township after dark so I have no idea what the place
                      is like. The last 100 miles of our journey was very dusty and the last 15 miles extremely
                      bumpy. The road is used so little that in some places we had to plow our way through
                      long grass and I was delighted when at last George turned into a side road and said
                      “This is our place.” We drove along the bank of the Mchewe River, then up a hill and
                      stopped at a tent which was pitched beside the half built walls of our new home. We
                      were expected so there was hot water for baths and after a supper of tinned food and
                      good hot tea, I climbed thankfully into bed.

                      Next morning I was awakened by the chattering of the African workmen and was
                      soon out to inspect the new surroundings. Our farm was once part of Hickson Wood’s
                      land and is separated from theirs by a river. Our houses cannot be more than a few
                      hundred yards apart as the crow flies but as both are built on the slopes of a long range
                      of high hills, and one can only cross the river at the foot of the slopes, it will be quite a
                      safari to go visiting on foot . Most of our land is covered with shoulder high grass but it
                      has been partly cleared of trees and scrub. Down by the river George has made a long
                      coffee nursery and a large vegetable garden but both coffee and vegetable seedlings
                      are too small to be of use.

                      George has spared all the trees that will make good shade for the coffee later on.
                      There are several huge wild fig trees as big as oaks but with smooth silvery-green trunks
                      and branches and there are lots of acacia thorn trees with flat tops like Japanese sun
                      shades. I’ve seen lovely birds in the fig trees, Louries with bright plumage and crested
                      heads, and Blue Rollers, and in the grasslands there are widow birds with incredibly long
                      black tail feathers.

                      There are monkeys too and horrible but fascinating tree lizards with blue bodies
                      and orange heads. There are so many, many things to tell you but they must wait for
                      another time as James, the house boy, has been to say “Bafu tiari” and if I don’t go at
                      once, the bath will be cold.

                      I am very very happy and terribly interested in this new life so please don’t
                      worry about me.

                      Much love to you all,

                      Mchewe Estate 29th. November 1930

                      Dearest Family,

                      I’ve lots of time to write letters just now because George is busy supervising the
                      building of the house from early morning to late afternoon – with a break for lunch of

                      On our second day here our tent was moved from the house site to a small
                      clearing further down the slope of our hill. Next to it the labourers built a ‘banda’ , which is
                      a three sided grass hut with thatched roof – much cooler than the tent in this weather.
                      There is also a little grass lav. so you see we have every convenience. I spend most of
                      my day in the banda reading or writing letters. Occasionally I wander up to the house site
                      and watch the building, but mostly I just sit.

                      I did try exploring once. I wandered down a narrow path towards the river. I
                      thought I might paddle and explore the river a little but I came round a bend and there,
                      facing me, was a crocodile. At least for a moment I thought it was and my adrenaline
                      glands got very busy indeed. But it was only an enormous monitor lizard, four or five
                      feet long. It must have been as scared as I was because it turned and rushed off through
                      the grass. I turned and walked hastily back to the camp and as I passed the house site I
                      saw some boys killing a large puff adder. Now I do my walking in the evenings with
                      George. Nothing alarming ever seems to happen when he is around.

                      It is interesting to watch the boys making bricks for the house. They make a pile
                      of mud which they trample with their feet until it is the right consistency. Then they fill
                      wooden moulds with the clayey mud, and press it down well and turn out beautiful shiny,
                      dark brown bricks which are laid out in rows and covered with grass to bake slowly in the

                      Most of the materials for the building are right here at hand. The walls will be sun
                      dried bricks and there is a white clay which will make a good whitewash for the inside
                      walls. The chimney and walls will be of burnt brick and tiles and George is now busy
                      building a kiln for this purpose. Poles for the roof are being cut in the hills behind the
                      house and every day women come along with large bundles of thatching grass on their
                      heads. Our windows are modern steel casement ones and the doors have been made
                      at a mission in the district. George does some of the bricklaying himself. The other
                      bricklayer is an African from Northern Rhodesia called Pedro. It makes me perspire just
                      to look at Pedro who wears an overcoat all day in the very hot sun.
                      Lamek continues to please. He turns out excellent meals, chicken soup followed
                      by roast chicken, vegetables from the Hickson-Woods garden and a steamed pudding
                      or fruit to wind up the meal. I enjoy the chicken but George is fed up with it and longs for
                      good red meat. The chickens are only about as large as a partridge but then they cost
                      only sixpence each.

                      I had my first visit to Mbeya two days ago. I put on my very best trousseau frock
                      for the occasion- that yellow striped silk one – and wore my wedding hat. George didn’t
                      comment, but I saw later that I was dreadfully overdressed.
                      Mbeya at the moment is a very small settlement consisting of a bundle of small
                      Indian shops – Dukas they call them, which stock European tinned foods and native soft
                      goods which seem to be mainly of Japanese origin. There is a one storied Government
                      office called the Boma and two attractive gabled houses of burnt brick which house the
                      District Officer and his Assistant. Both these houses have lovely gardens but i saw them
                      only from the outside as we did not call. After buying our stores George said “Lets go to the pub, I want you to meet Mrs Menzies.” Well the pub turned out to be just three or four grass rondavels on a bare
                      plot. The proprietor, Ken Menzies, came out to welcome us. I took to him at once
                      because he has the same bush sandy eyebrows as you have Dad. He told me that
                      unfortunately his wife is away at the coast, and then he ushered me through the door
                      saying “Here’s George with his bride.” then followed the Iringa welcome all over again,
                      only more so, because the room was full of diggers from the Lupa Goldfields about fifty
                      miles away.

                      Champagne corks popped as I shook hands all around and George was
                      clapped on the back. I could see he was a favourite with everyone and I tried not to be
                      gauche and let him down. These men were all most kind and most appeared to be men
                      of more than average education. However several were unshaven and looked as
                      though they had slept in their clothes as I suppose they had. When they have a little luck
                      on the diggings they come in here to Menzies pub and spend the lot. George says
                      they bring their gold dust and small nuggets in tobacco tins or Kruschen salts jars and
                      hand them over to Ken Menzies saying “Tell me when I’ve spent the lot.” Ken then
                      weighs the gold and estimates its value and does exactly what the digger wants.
                      However the Diggers get good value for their money because besides the drink
                      they get companionship and good food and nursing if they need it. Mrs Menzies is a
                      trained nurse and most kind and capable from what I was told. There is no doctor or
                      hospital here so her experience as a nursing sister is invaluable.
                      We had lunch at the Hotel and afterwards I poured tea as I was the only female
                      present. Once the shyness had worn off I rather enjoyed myself.

                      Now to end off I must tell you a funny story of how I found out that George likes
                      his women to be feminine. You will remember those dashing black silk pyjamas Aunt
                      Mary gave me, with flowered “happy coat” to match. Well last night I thought I’d give
                      George a treat and when the boy called me for my bath I left George in the ‘banda’
                      reading the London Times. After my bath I put on my Japanese pyjamas and coat,
                      peered into the shaving mirror which hangs from the tent pole and brushed my hair until it
                      shone. I must confess that with my fringe and shingled hair I thought I made quite a
                      glamourous Japanese girl. I walked coyly across to the ‘banda’. Alas no compliment.
                      George just glanced up from the Times and went on reading.
                      He was away rather a long time when it came to his turn to bath. I glanced up
                      when he came back and had a slight concussion. George, if you please, was arrayed in
                      my very best pale yellow satin nightie. The one with the lace and ribbon sash and little
                      bows on the shoulder. I knew exactly what he meant to convey. I was not to wear the
                      trousers in the family. I seethed inwardly, but pretending not to notice, I said calmly “shall
                      I call for food?” In this garb George sat down to dinner and it says a great deal for African
                      phlegm that the boy did not drop the dishes.

                      We conversed politely about this and that, and then, as usual, George went off
                      to bed. I appeared to be engrossed in my book and did not stir. When I went to the
                      tent some time later George lay fast asleep still in my nightie, though all I could see of it
                      was the little ribbon bows looking farcically out of place on his broad shoulders.
                      This morning neither of us mentioned the incident, George was up and dressed
                      by the time I woke up but I have been smiling all day to think what a ridiculous picture
                      we made at dinner. So farewell to pyjamas and hey for ribbons and bows.

                      Your loving

                      Mchewe Estate. Mbeya. 8th December 1930

                      Dearest Family,

                      A mere shadow of her former buxom self lifts a languid pen to write to you. I’m
                      convalescing after my first and I hope my last attack of malaria. It was a beastly
                      experience but all is now well and I am eating like a horse and will soon regain my

                      I took ill on the evening of the day I wrote my last letter to you. It started with a
                      splitting headache and fits of shivering. The symptoms were all too familiar to George
                      who got me into bed and filled me up with quinine. He then piled on all the available
                      blankets and packed me in hot water bottles. I thought I’d explode and said so and
                      George said just to lie still and I’d soon break into a good sweat. However nothing of the
                      kind happened and next day my temperature was 105 degrees. Instead of feeling
                      miserable as I had done at the onset, I now felt very merry and most chatty. George
                      now tells me I sang the most bawdy songs but I hardly think it likely. Do you?
                      You cannot imagine how tenderly George nursed me, not only that day but
                      throughout the whole eight days I was ill. As we do not employ any African house
                      women, and there are no white women in the neighbourhood at present to whom we
                      could appeal for help, George had to do everything for me. It was unbearably hot in the
                      tent so George decided to move me across to the Hickson-Woods vacant house. They
                      have not yet returned from the coast.

                      George decided I was too weak to make the trip in the car so he sent a
                      messenger over to the Woods’ house for their Machila. A Machila is a canopied canvas
                      hammock slung from a bamboo pole and carried by four bearers. The Machila duly
                      arrived and I attempted to walk to it, clinging to George’s arm, but collapsed in a faint so
                      the trip was postponed to the next morning when I felt rather better. Being carried by
                      Machila is quite pleasant but I was in no shape to enjoy anything and got thankfully into
                      bed in the Hickson-Woods large, cool and rather dark bedroom. My condition did not
                      improve and George decided to send a runner for the Government Doctor at Tukuyu
                      about 60 miles away. Two days later Dr Theis arrived by car and gave me two
                      injections of quinine which reduced the fever. However I still felt very weak and had to
                      spend a further four days in bed.

                      We have now decided to stay on here until the Hickson-Woods return by which
                      time our own house should be ready. George goes off each morning and does not
                      return until late afternoon. However don’t think “poor Eleanor” because I am very
                      comfortable here and there are lots of books to read and the days seem to pass very

                      The Hickson-Wood’s house was built by Major Jones and I believe the one on
                      his shamba is just like it. It is a square red brick building with a wide verandah all around
                      and, rather astonishingly, a conical thatched roof. There is a beautiful view from the front
                      of the house and a nice flower garden. The coffee shamba is lower down on the hill.
                      Mrs Wood’s first husband, George’s friend Vi Lumb, is buried in the flower
                      garden. He died of blackwater fever about five years ago. I’m told that before her
                      second marriage Kath lived here alone with her little daughter, Maureen, and ran the farm
                      entirely on her own. She must be quite a person. I bet she didn’t go and get malaria
                      within a few weeks of her marriage.

                      The native tribe around here are called Wasafwa. They are pretty primitive but
                      seem amiable people. Most of the men, when they start work, wear nothing but some
                      kind of sheet of unbleached calico wrapped round their waists and hanging to mid calf. As soon as they have drawn their wages they go off to a duka and buy a pair of khaki
                      shorts for five or six shillings. Their women folk wear very short beaded skirts. I think the
                      base is goat skin but have never got close enough for a good look. They are very shy.
                      I hear from George that they have started on the roof of our house but I have not
                      seen it myself since the day I was carried here by Machila. My letters by the way go to
                      the Post Office by runner. George’s farm labourers take it in turn to act in this capacity.
                      The mail bag is given to them on Friday afternoon and by Saturday evening they are
                      back with our very welcome mail.

                      Very much love,

                      Mbeya 23rd December 1930

                      Dearest Family,

                      George drove to Mbeya for stores last week and met Col. Sherwood-Kelly VC.
                      who has been sent by the Government to Mbeya as Game Ranger. His job will be to
                      protect native crops from raiding elephants and hippo etc., and to protect game from
                      poachers. He has had no training for this so he has asked George to go with him on his
                      first elephant safari to show him the ropes.

                      George likes Col. Kelly and was quite willing to go on safari but not willing to
                      leave me alone on the farm as I am still rather shaky after malaria. So it was arranged that
                      I should go to Mbeya and stay with Mrs Harmer, the wife of the newly appointed Lands
                      and Mines Officer, whose husband was away on safari.

                      So here I am in Mbeya staying in the Harmers temporary wattle and daub
                      house. Unfortunately I had a relapse of the malaria and stayed in bed for three days with
                      a temperature. Poor Mrs Harmer had her hands full because in the room next to mine
                      she was nursing a digger with blackwater fever. I could hear his delirious babble through
                      the thin wall – very distressing. He died poor fellow , and leaves a wife and seven

                      I feel better than I have done for weeks and this afternoon I walked down to the
                      store. There are great signs of activity and people say that Mbeya will grow rapidly now
                      owing to the boom on the gold fields and also to the fact that a large aerodrome is to be
                      built here. Mbeya is to be a night stop on the proposed air service between England
                      and South Africa. I seem to be the last of the pioneers. If all these schemes come about
                      Mbeya will become quite suburban.

                      26th December 1930

                      George, Col. Kelly and Mr Harmer all returned to Mbeya on Christmas Eve and
                      it was decided that we should stay and have midday Christmas dinner with the
                      Harmers. Col. Kelly and the Assistant District Commissioner came too and it was quite a
                      festive occasion, We left Mbeya in the early afternoon and had our evening meal here at
                      Hickson-Wood’s farm. I wore my wedding dress.

                      I went across to our house in the car this morning. George usually walks across to
                      save petrol which is very expensive here. He takes a short cut and wades through the
                      river. The distance by road is very much longer than the short cut. The men are now
                      thatching the roof of our cottage and it looks charming. It consists of a very large living
                      room-dinning room with a large inglenook fireplace at one end. The bedroom is a large
                      square room with a smaller verandah room adjoining it. There is a wide verandah in the
                      front, from which one has a glorious view over a wide valley to the Livingstone
                      Mountains on the horizon. Bathroom and storeroom are on the back verandah and the
                      kitchen is some distance behind the house to minimise the risk of fire.

                      You can imagine how much I am looking forward to moving in. We have some
                      furniture which was made by an Indian carpenter at Iringa, refrectory dining table and
                      chairs, some small tables and two armchairs and two cupboards and a meatsafe. Other
                      things like bookshelves and extra cupboards we will have to make ourselves. George
                      has also bought a portable gramophone and records which will be a boon.
                      We also have an Irish wolfhound puppy, a skinny little chap with enormous feet
                      who keeps me company all day whilst George is across at our farm working on the

                      Lots and lots of love,

                      Mchewe Estate 8th Jan 1931

                      Dearest Family,

                      Alas, I have lost my little companion. The Doctor called in here on Boxing night
                      and ran over and killed Paddy, our pup. It was not his fault but I was very distressed
                      about it and George has promised to try and get another pup from the same litter.
                      The Hickson-Woods returned home on the 29th December so we decided to
                      move across to our nearly finished house on the 1st January. Hicky Wood decided that
                      we needed something special to mark the occasion so he went off and killed a sucking
                      pig behind the kitchen. The piglet’s screams were terrible and I felt that I would not be
                      able to touch any dinner. Lamek cooked and served sucking pig up in the traditional way
                      but it was high and quite literally, it stank. Our first meal in our own home was not a

                      However next day all was forgotten and I had something useful to do. George
                      hung doors and I held the tools and I also planted rose cuttings I had brought from
                      Mbeya and sowed several boxes with seeds.

                      Dad asked me about the other farms in the area. I haven’t visited any but there
                      are five besides ours. One belongs to the Lutheran Mission at Utengule, a few miles
                      from here. The others all belong to British owners. Nearest to Mbeya, at the foot of a
                      very high peak which gives Mbeya its name, are two farms, one belonging to a South
                      African mining engineer named Griffiths, the other to I.G.Stewart who was an officer in the
                      Kings African Rifles. Stewart has a young woman called Queenie living with him. We are
                      some miles further along the range of hills and are some 23 miles from Mbeya by road.
                      The Mchewe River divides our land from the Hickson-Woods and beyond their farm is
                      Major Jones.

                      All these people have been away from their farms for some time but have now
                      returned so we will have some neighbours in future. However although the houses are
                      not far apart as the crow flies, they are all built high in the foothills and it is impossible to
                      connect the houses because of the rivers and gorges in between. One has to drive right
                      down to the main road and then up again so I do not suppose we will go visiting very
                      often as the roads are very bumpy and eroded and petrol is so expensive that we all
                      save it for occasional trips to Mbeya.

                      The rains are on and George has started to plant out some coffee seedlings. The
                      rains here are strange. One can hear the rain coming as it moves like a curtain along the
                      range of hills. It comes suddenly, pours for a little while and passes on and the sun
                      shines again.

                      I do like it here and I wish you could see or dear little home.

                      Your loving,

                      Mchewe Estate. 1st April 1931

                      Dearest Family,

                      Everything is now running very smoothly in our home. Lamek continues to
                      produce palatable meals and makes wonderful bread which he bakes in a four gallon
                      petrol tin as we have no stove yet. He puts wood coals on the brick floor of the kitchen,
                      lays the tin lengh-wise on the coals and heaps more on top. The bread tins are then put
                      in the petrol tin, which has one end cut away, and the open end is covered by a flat
                      piece of tin held in place by a brick. Cakes are also backed in this make-shift oven and I
                      have never known Lamek to have a failure yet.

                      Lamek has a helper, known as the ‘mpishi boy’ , who does most of the hard
                      work, cleans pots and pans and chops the firewood etc. Another of the mpishi boy’s
                      chores is to kill the two chickens we eat each day. The chickens run wild during the day
                      but are herded into a small chicken house at night. One of the kitchen boy’s first duties is
                      to let the chickens out first thing in the early morning. Some time after breakfast it dawns
                      on Lamek that he will need a chicken for lunch. he informs the kitchen boy who selects a
                      chicken and starts to chase it in which he is enthusiastically joined by our new Irish
                      wolfhound pup, Kelly. Together they race after the frantic fowl, over the flower beds and
                      around the house until finally the chicken collapses from sheer exhaustion. The kitchen
                      boy then hands it over to Lamek who murders it with the kitchen knife and then pops the
                      corpse into boiling water so the feathers can be stripped off with ease.

                      I pointed out in vain, that it would be far simpler if the doomed chickens were kept
                      in the chicken house in the mornings when the others were let out and also that the correct
                      way to pluck chickens is when they are dry. Lamek just smiled kindly and said that that
                      may be so in Europe but that his way is the African way and none of his previous
                      Memsahibs has complained.

                      My houseboy, named James, is clean and capable in the house and also a
                      good ‘dhobi’ or washboy. He takes the washing down to the river and probably
                      pounds it with stones, but I prefer not to look. The ironing is done with a charcoal iron
                      only we have no charcoal and he uses bits of wood from the kitchen fire but so far there
                      has not been a mishap.

                      It gets dark here soon after sunset and then George lights the oil lamps and we
                      have tea and toast in front of the log fire which burns brightly in our inglenook. This is my
                      favourite hour of the day. Later George goes for his bath. I have mine in the mornings
                      and we have dinner at half past eight. Then we talk a bit and read a bit and sometimes
                      play the gramophone. I expect it all sounds pretty unexciting but it doesn’t seem so to

                      Very much love,

                      Mchewe Estate 20th April 1931

                      Dearest Family,

                      It is still raining here and the countryside looks very lush and green, very different
                      from the Mbeya district I first knew, when plains and hills were covered in long brown
                      grass – very course stuff that grows shoulder high.

                      Most of the labourers are hill men and one can see little patches of cultivation in
                      the hills. Others live in small villages near by, each consisting of a cluster of thatched huts
                      and a few maize fields and perhaps a patch of bananas. We do not have labour lines on
                      the farm because our men all live within easy walking distance. Each worker has a labour
                      card with thirty little squares on it. One of these squares is crossed off for each days work
                      and when all thirty are marked in this way the labourer draws his pay and hies himself off
                      to the nearest small store and blows the lot. The card system is necessary because
                      these Africans are by no means slaves to work. They work only when they feel like it or
                      when someone in the family requires a new garment, or when they need a few shillings
                      to pay their annual tax. Their fields, chickens and goats provide them with the food they
                      need but they draw rations of maize meal beans and salt. Only our headman is on a
                      salary. His name is Thomas and he looks exactly like the statues of Julius Caesar, the
                      same bald head and muscular neck and sardonic expression. He comes from Northern
                      Rhodesia and is more intelligent than the locals.

                      We still live mainly on chickens. We have a boy whose job it is to scour the
                      countryside for reasonable fat ones. His name is Lucas and he is quite a character. He
                      has such long horse teeth that he does not seem able to close his mouth and wears a
                      perpetual amiable smile. He brings his chickens in beehive shaped wicker baskets
                      which are suspended on a pole which Lucas carries on his shoulder.

                      We buy our groceries in bulk from Mbeya, our vegetables come from our
                      garden by the river and our butter from Kath Wood. Our fresh milk we buy from the
                      natives. It is brought each morning by three little totos each carrying one bottle on his
                      shaven head. Did I tell you that the local Wasafwa file their teeth to points. These kids
                      grin at one with their little sharks teeth – quite an “all-ready-to-eat-you-with-my-dear” look.
                      A few nights ago a message arrived from Kath Wood to say that Queenie
                      Stewart was very ill and would George drive her across to the Doctor at Tukuyu. I
                      wanted George to wait until morning because it was pouring with rain, and the mountain
                      road to Tukuyu is tricky even in dry weather, but he said it is dangerous to delay with any
                      kind of fever in Africa and he would have to start at once. So off he drove in the rain and I
                      did not see him again until the following night.

                      George said that it had been a nightmare trip. Queenie had a high temperature
                      and it was lucky that Kath was able to go to attend to her. George needed all his
                      attention on the road which was officially closed to traffic, and very slippery, and in some
                      places badly eroded. In some places the decking of bridges had been removed and
                      George had to get out in the rain and replace it. As he had nothing with which to fasten
                      the decking to the runners it was a dangerous undertaking to cross the bridges especially
                      as the rivers are now in flood and flowing strongly. However they reached Tukuyu safely
                      and it was just as well they went because the Doctor diagnosed Queenies illness as
                      Spirillium Tick Fever which is a very nasty illness indeed.


                      Mchewe Estate. 20th May 1931

                      Dear Family,

                      I’m feeling fit and very happy though a bit lonely sometimes because George
                      spends much of his time away in the hills cutting a furrow miles long to bring water to the
                      house and to the upper part of the shamba so that he will be able to irrigate the coffee
                      during the dry season.

                      It will be quite an engineering feat when it is done as George only has makeshift
                      surveying instruments. He has mounted an ordinary cheap spirit level on an old camera
                      tripod and has tacked two gramophone needles into the spirit level to give him a line.
                      The other day part of a bank gave way and practically buried two of George’s labourers
                      but they were quickly rescued and no harm was done. However he will not let them
                      work unless he is there to supervise.

                      I keep busy so that the days pass quickly enough. I am delighted with the
                      material you sent me for curtains and loose covers and have hired a hand sewing
                      machine from Pedro-of-the-overcoat and am rattling away all day. The machine is an
                      ancient German one and when I say rattle, I mean rattle. It is a most cumbersome, heavy
                      affair of I should say, the same vintage as George Stevenson’s Rocket locomotive.
                      Anyway it sews and I am pleased with my efforts. We made a couch ourselves out of a
                      native bed, a mattress and some planks but all this is hidden under the chintz cover and
                      it looks quite the genuine bought article. I have some diversions too. Small black faced
                      monkeys sit in the trees outside our bedroom window and they are most entertaining to
                      watch. They are very mischievous though. When I went out into the garden this morning
                      before breakfast I found that the monkeys had pulled up all my carnations. There they
                      lay, roots in the air and whether they will take again I don’t know.

                      I like the monkeys but hate the big mountain baboons that come and hang
                      around our chicken house. I am terrified that they will tear our pup into bits because he is
                      a plucky young thing and will rush out to bark at the baboons.

                      George usually returns for the weekends but last time he did not because he had
                      a touch of malaria. He sent a boy down for the mail and some fresh bread. Old Lucas
                      arrived with chickens just as the messenger was setting off with mail and bread in a
                      haversack on his back. I thought it might be a good idea to send a chicken to George so
                      I selected a spry young rooster which I handed to the messenger. He, however,
                      complained that he needed both hands for climbing. I then had one of my bright ideas
                      and, putting a layer of newspaper over the bread, I tucked the rooster into the haversack
                      and buckled down the flap so only his head protruded.

                      I thought no more about it until two days later when the messenger again
                      appeared for fresh bread. He brought a rather terse note from George saying that the
                      previous bread was uneatable as the rooster had eaten some of it and messed on the
                      rest. Ah me!

                      The previous weekend the Hickson-Woods, Stewarts and ourselves, went
                      across to Tukuyu to attend a dance at the club there. the dance was very pleasant. All
                      the men wore dinner jackets and the ladies wore long frocks. As there were about
                      twenty men and only seven ladies we women danced every dance whilst the surplus
                      men got into a huddle around the bar. George and I spent the night with the Agricultural
                      Officer, Mr Eustace, and I met his fiancee, Lillian Austin from South Africa, to whom I took
                      a great liking. She is Governess to the children of Major Masters who has a farm in the
                      Tukuyu district.

                      On the Sunday morning we had a look at the township. The Boma was an old German one and was once fortified as the Africans in this district are a very warlike tribe.
                      They are fine looking people. The men wear sort of togas and bands of cloth around
                      their heads and look like Roman Senators, but the women go naked except for a belt
                      from which two broad straps hang down, one in front and another behind. Not a graceful
                      garb I assure you.

                      We also spent a pleasant hour in the Botanical Gardens, laid out during the last
                      war by the District Commissioner, Major Wells, with German prisoner of war labour.
                      There are beautiful lawns and beds of roses and other flowers and shady palm lined
                      walks and banana groves. The gardens are terraced with flights of brick steps connecting
                      the different levels and there is a large artificial pond with little islands in it. I believe Major
                      Wells designed the lake to resemble in miniature, the Lakes of Killarney.
                      I enjoyed the trip very much. We got home at 8 pm to find the front door locked
                      and the kitchen boy fast asleep on my newly covered couch! I hastily retreated to the
                      bedroom whilst George handled the situation.



                        Phyllis Ellen Marshall

                        1909 – 1983

                        Phyllis Marshall


                        Phyllis, my grandfather George Marshall’s sister, never married. She lived in her parents home in Love Lane, and spent decades of her later life bedridden, living alone and crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. She had her bed in the front downstairs room, and had cords hanging by her bed to open the curtains, turn on the tv and so on, and she had carers and meals on wheels visit her daily. The room was dark and grim, but Phyllis was always smiling and cheerful.  Phyllis loved the Degas ballerinas and had a couple of prints on the walls.

                        I remember visiting her, but it has only recently registered that this was my great grandparents house. When I was a child, we visited her and she indicated a tin on a chest of drawers and said I could take a biscuit. It was a lemon puff, and was the stalest biscuit I’d ever had. To be polite I ate it. Then she offered me another one! I declined, but she thought I was being polite and said “Go on! You can have another!” I ate another one, and have never eaten a lemon puff since that day.

                        Phyllis’s nephew Bryan Marshall used to visit her regularly. I didn’t realize how close they were until recently, when I resumed contact with Bryan, who emigrated to USA in the 1970s following a successful application for a job selling stained glass windows and church furnishings.

                        I asked on a Stourbridge facebook group if anyone remembered her.

                        AF  Yes I remember her. My friend and I used to go up from Longlands school every Friday afternoon to do jobs for her. I remember she had a record player and we used to put her 45rpm record on Send in the Clowns for her. Such a lovely lady. She had her bed in the front room.

                        KW I remember very clearly a lady in a small house in Love Lane with alley at the left hand.  I was intrigued by this lady who used to sit with the front door open and she was in a large chair of some sort. I used to see people going in and out and the lady was smiling. I was young then (31) and wondered how she coped but my sense was she had lots of help.  I’ve never forgotten that lady in Love Lane sitting in the open door way I suppose when it was warm enough.

                        LR I used to deliver meals on wheels to her lovely lady.

                        I sent Bryan the comments from the Stourbridge group and he replied:

                        Thanks Tracy. I don’t recognize the names here but lovely to see such kind comments.
                        In the early 70’s neighbors on Corser Street, Mr. & Mrs. Walter Braithwaite would pop around with occasional visits and meals. Walter was my piano teacher for awhile when I was in my early twenties. He was a well known music teacher at Rudolph Steiner School (former Elmfield School) on Love Lane. A very fine school. I seem to recall seeing a good article on Walter recently…perhaps on the Stourbridge News website. He was very well known.
                        I’m ruminating about life with my Aunt Phyllis. We were very close. Our extra special time was every Saturday at 5pm (I seem to recall) we’d watch Doctor Who. Right from the first episode. We loved it. Likewise I’d do the children’s crossword out of Woman’s Realm magazine…always looking to win a camera but never did ! She opened my mind to the Bible, music and ballet. She once got tickets and had a taxi take us into Birmingham to see the Bolshoi Ballet…at a time when they rarely left their country. It was a very big deal in the early 60’s. ! I’ve many fond memories about her and grandad which I’ll share in due course. I’d change the steel needle on the old record player, following each play of the 78rpm records…oh my…another world.

                        Bryan continues reminiscing about Phyllis in further correspondence:

                        Yes, I can recall those two Degas prints. I don’t know much of Phyllis’ early history other than she was a hairdresser in Birmingham. I want to say at John Lewis, for some reason (so there must have been a connection and being such a large store I bet they did have a salon?)
                        You will know that she had severe and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis that eventually gnarled her hands and moved through her body. I remember strapping on her leg/foot braces and hearing her writhe in pain as I did so but she wanted to continue walking standing/ getting up as long as she could. I’d take her out in the wheelchair and I can’t believe I say it along …but down Stanley Road!! (I had subsequent nightmares about what could have happened to her, had I tripped or let go!) She loved Mary Stevens Park, the swans, ducks and of course Canadian geese. Was grateful for everything in creation. As I used to go over Hanbury Hill on my visit to Love Lane, she would always remind me to smell the “sea-air” as I crested the hill.
                        In the earlier days she smoked cigarettes with one of those long filters…looking like someone from the twenties.

                        I’ll check on “Send in the clowns”. I do recall that music. I remember also she loved to hear Neil Diamond. Her favorites in classical music gave me an appreciation of Elgar and Delius especially. She also loved ballet music such as Swan Lake and Nutcracker. Scheherazade and La Boutique Fantastic also other gems.
                        When grandad died she and aunt Dorothy shared more about grandma (who died I believe when John and I were nine-months old…therefore early 1951). Grandma (Mary Ann Gilman Purdy) played the piano and loved Strauss and Offenbach. The piano in the picture you sent had a bad (wonky) leg which would fall off and when we had the piano at 4, Mount Road it was rather dangerous. In any event my parents didn’t want me or others “banging on it” for fear of waking the younger brothers so it disappeared at sometime.
                        By the way, the dog, Flossy was always so rambunctious (of course, she was a JRT!) she was put on the stairway which fortunately had a door on it. Having said that I’ve always loved dogs so was very excited to see her and disappointed when she was not around. 

                        Phyllis with her parents William and Mary Marshall, and Flossie the dog in the garden at Love Lane:

                        Phyllis William and Mary Marshall


                        Bryan continues:

                        I’ll always remember the early days with the outside toilet with the overhead cistern caked in active BIG spider webs. I used to have to light a candle to go outside, shielding the flame until destination. In that space I’d set the candle down and watch the eery shadows move from side to side whilst…well anyway! Then I’d run like hell back into the house. Eventually the kitchen wall was broken through so it became an indoor loo. Phew!
                        In the early days the house was rented for ten-shillings a week…I know because I used to take over a ten-bob-note to a grumpy lady next door who used to sign the receipt in the rent book. Then, I think she died and it became available for $600.00 yes…the whole house for $600.00 but it wasn’t purchased then. Eventually aunt Phyllis purchased it some years later…perhaps when grandad died.

                        I used to work much in the back garden which was a lovely walled garden with arch-type decorations in the brickwork and semicircular shaped capping bricks. The abundant apple tree. Raspberry and loganberry canes. A gooseberry bush and huge Victoria plum tree on the wall at the bottom of the garden which became a wonderful attraction for wasps! (grandad called the “whasps”). He would stew apples and fruit daily.
                        Do you remember their black and white cat Twinky? Always sat on the pink-screen TV and when she died they were convinced that “that’s wot got ‘er”. Grandad of course loved all his cats and as he aged, he named them all “Billy”.

                        Have you come across the name “Featherstone” in grandma’s name. I don’t recall any details but Dorothy used to recall this. She did much searching of the family history Such a pity she didn’t hand anything on to anyone. She also said that we had a member of the family who worked with James Watt….but likewise I don’t have details.
                        Gifts of chocolates to Phyllis were regular and I became the recipient of the overflow!

                        What a pity Dorothy’s family history research has disappeared!  I have found the Featherstone’s, and the Purdy who worked with James Watt, but I wonder what else Dorothy knew.

                        I mentioned DH Lawrence to Bryan, and the connection to Eastwood, where Bryan’s grandma (and Phyllis’s mother) Mary Ann Gilman Purdy was born, and shared with him the story about Francis Purdy, the Primitive Methodist minister, and about Francis’s son William who invented the miners lamp.

                        He replied:

                        As a nosy young man I was looking through the family bookcase in Love Lane and came across a brown paper covered book. Intrigued, I found “Sons and Lovers” D.H. Lawrence. I knew it was a taboo book (in those days) as I was growing up but now I see the deeper connection. Of course! I know that Phyllis had I think an earlier boyfriend by the name of Maurice who lived in Perry Barr, Birmingham. I think he later married but was always kind enough to send her a book and fond message each birthday (Feb.12). I guess you know grandad’s birthday – July 28. We’d always celebrate those days. I’d usually be the one to go into Oldswinford and get him a cardigan or pullover and later on, his 2oz tins of St. Bruno tobacco for his pipe (I recall the room filled with smoke as he puffed away).
                        Dorothy and Phyllis always spoke of their ancestor’s vocation as a Minister. So glad to have this history! Wow, what a story too. The Lord rescued him from mischief indeed. Just goes to show how God can change hearts…one at a time.
                        So interesting to hear about the Miner’s Lamp. My vicar whilst growing up at St. John’s in Stourbridge was from Durham and each Harvest Festival, there would be a miner’s lamp placed upon the altar as a symbol of the colliery and the bountiful harvest.

                        More recollections from Bryan about the house and garden at Love Lane:

                        I always recall tea around the three legged oak table bedecked with a colorful seersucker cloth. Battenburg cake. Jam Roll. Rich Tea and Digestive biscuits. Mr. Kipling’s exceedingly good cakes! Home-made jam.  Loose tea from the Coronation tin cannister. The ancient mangle outside the back door and the galvanized steel wash tub with hand-operated agitator on the underside of the lid. The hand operated water pump ‘though modernisation allowed for a cold tap only inside, above the single sink and wooden draining board. A small gas stove and very little room for food preparation. Amazing how the Marshalls (×7) managed in this space!

                        The small window over the sink in the kitchen brought in little light since the neighbor built on a bathroom annex at the back of their house, leaving #47 with limited light, much to to upset of grandad and Phyllis. I do recall it being a gloomy place..i.e.the kitchen and back room.

                        The garden was lovely. Long and narrow with privet hedge dividing the properties on the right and the lovely wall on the left. Dorothy planted spectacular lilac bushes against the wall. Vivid blues, purples and whites. Double-flora. Amazing…and with stunning fragrance. Grandad loved older victorian type plants such as foxgloves and comfrey. Forget-me-nots and marigolds (calendulas) in abundance.  Rhubarb stalks. Always plantings of lettuce and other vegetables. Lots of mint too! A large varigated laurel bush outside the front door!

                        Such a pleasant walk through the past. 

                        An autograph book belonging to Phyllis from the 1920s has survived in which each friend painted a little picture, drew a cartoon, or wrote a verse.  This entry is perhaps my favourite:

                        Ripping Time


                        In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage


                        “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much,” mouthed Tara. Star nodded and, leaning forward, she smiled engagingly at April.

                        “So, April …. you’ve never heard of Vince French? The famous singer who is touted to have a voice like an angel?”

                        “Oh! THAT Vince French,” blustered April. “Yes, of course I’ve heard of HIM. But he’s not the one I sang with. Never met him personally. Good voice, or so I’ve heard.”

                        Rosamund folded her arms and glowered at April. “Auntie April, who is this Uncle Albie of what you speak? Mum said you never got hitched. Said you was too uppity.”

                        “Stop it!” shouted April, flinging the broom wildly above her head. “Just stop it, will you! First, you man-handle me into the wardrobe filled with dirty old coats and refuse to let me have pineapple on my pizza and now you are interrogating me as though I am some sort of criminal.” She threw the broom to the floor with such force that the handle snapped off, and then she collapsed in a sobbing heap.

                        “I suppose we have been rather unwelcoming,” said Star.

                        “There, there, Auntie,” said Rosamund, patting her awkwardly on the shoulder. “If you need to make up a husband, I totally get it. I’m always making up stuff.”

                        “I think it is about time you tell us the truth,” said Tara sternly. “Why have you invented a philandering husband and what does Vince French have to do with it and, last but certainly not least, why is that wardrobe filled with stinky coats in our office?”

                        “How about I make a nice cup of tea and you can tell us everything,” said Star.


                        Fanella was frantic, trying to think of a way to escape with her baby.  The atmosphere in this city was unbearable at the best of times, and especially in this house, but now it was excruciating. It wasn’t that she was afraid of the plague that was terrorizing people, it was the way the people were reacting that was so alarming.  They were howling like wolves, a sure sign of lunacy since time immemorial. The sound of it made her blood run cold.

                        Nobody had seen the president for over a week and rumours were rife. Many said that he’d died, and they were keeping it secret to avoid civil unrest.  An office junior was continuing his tweets to the nation, using a random predictive text algorithm. Nobody had noticed. That wasn’t strictly true of course as many had commented that the messages now made marginally more sense.

                        Fanella could sense the swelling chaos in the air, both inside the house and beyond, in the city and in the nation. Everyone was losing their minds. She had to escape.

                        She consulted the U Chong:

                         (Chin / Jin) : Progress / Advance. It represents Prospering, as well as Progress. It is symbolic of meeting the great man.

                        The great man! Of course! Lazuli Galore would come to rescue her! But how would he know where to find her? Would he be able to travel freely? He’d find a way, surely! But how would he know she needed help? It was so complicated. So hard to know what to do!

                        But first things first. Fanella crept down to the kitchen, in the dead  of the night while everyone was tucked up in their beds with their fitful nightmares, and filled a rucksack with provisions. Then she crept up the back stairs to her hideout in the attic of the west wing.  The baby was still sleeping soundly. Fanella lay down and pulled a blanket round them both. Maybe the answer would come in a dream. If not, she’d think about it again tomorrow.


                        They walked through a labyrinth of tunnels which seemed to have been carved into a rocky mountain. The clicks and clacks of their high heels echoed in the cold silence meeting all of Sophie’s questions, leaving her wondering where they could be. Tightly held by her rompers she felt her fat mass wobbling like jelly around her skeleton. It didn’t help clear her mind which was still confused by the environment and the apparent memory loss concerning how she arrived there.

                        Sophie couldn’t tell how many turns they took before Barbara put her six fingers hand on a flat rock at shoulders height. The rock around the hand turned green and glowed for two seconds; then a big chunk of rock slid to the side revealing a well designed modern style room.

                        “Doctor, Sophie is here,” said Barbara when they entered.

                        A little man was working at his desk. At least Sophie assumed it was his desk and that he was working. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and bermudas. The computer screen he was looking at projected a greenish tint onto his face, and it made him look just like the green man icon. Sophie cackled, a little at first.

                        The Doctor’s hand tensed on the mouse and his eyebrows gathered like angry caterpillars ready to fight. He must have made a wrong move because a cascade of sound ending in a flop indicated he just died a death, most certainly on one of those facegoat addictive games.

                        That certainly didn’t help muffle Sophie’s cackle until she felt Barbara’s six fingers seizing her shoulders as if for a Vulcan nerve pinch. Sophie expected to lose consciousness, but the hand was mostly warm, except for that extra finger which was cold and buzzing. The contact of the hand upon the latex gave off little squeaky sounds that made Sophie feel uncomfortable. She swallowed her anxiety and wished for the woman to remove her hand. But as she had  noticed more than once, wishes could take time and twists before they could be fulfilled.

                        “Why do you have to ruin everything every time?” asked the Doctor. His face was now red and distorted.

                        “Every time?” said Sophie confused.

                        “Yes! You took your sleeper agent role too seriously. We couldn’t get any valuable intel and the whole doll operation was a fiasco. We almost lost the magpies. And now, your taste for uncharted drugs, which as a parenthesis I confess I admire your dedication to explore unknown territories for science… Anyway, you were all day locked up into your boudoir trying to contact me while I just needed you to look at computer screens and attend to meetings.”

                        Sophie was too shocked to believe it. How could the man be so misinformed. She never liked computers and meetings, except maybe while looking online for conspiracy theories and aliens and going to comiccons. But…

                        “Now you’re so addict to the drugs that you’re useless until you follow our rehab program.”

                        “A rehab program?” asked Sophie, her voice shaking. “But…” That certainly was the spookiest thing she had heard since she had arrived to this place, and this made her speechless, but certainly not optionless. Without thinking she tried a move she had seen in movies. She turned and threw her mass into Barbara. The two women fell on the cold floor. Sophie heard a crack before she felt the pain in her right arm. She thought she ought to have persevered in her combat training course after the first week. But life is never perfect.

                        “Suffice!” said the Doctor from above. “You’ll like it with the other guests, you’ll see. All you have to do is follow the protocol we’ll give you each day and read the documentation that Barbara will give you.”

                        Sophie tried a witty answer but the pain was too much and it ended in a desperate moan.


                        I woke up this morning with a stiff neck. I do not mention it too much with my friend because some of them have a tendency to look for a reason behind anything like you have a choice that you don’t want to make, or you don’t listen your truth, or whatever one can invent in such a case. I’m sure someone would even mention a past life when my head was cut off. Today I don’t want other people’s opinion about me so I just say it’s a way for me to take care of myself.

                        Today I take things one at a time. I called a few friends to take news, and only one of them answered. Which is fine by me because I didn’t really want to talk, only to make the effort to connect. I went into the garden, the grass is tall and it looks like a prairie. I’m sure wild mice enjoy it, and the neighbour’s cats also. One of them has a roof full of them redheads and black ones. I see them cross the wild grass one at a time, each has their own habitual path.

                        I love looking at them. It’s quieting.

                        There was an argument somewhere. I heard people shout. A man and a woman. It sounded like a soap, so I’m not sure it wasn’t someone’s TV on. The air was so clear, the absence of the cars and normal conversations gave it enough place to express. Each silence they left in between their arguments was filled with sounds of nature.

                        I have a new family of birds coming into the garden. I baked them some wild rice with carrots and some fat. Someone told me it’s the last day you can feed them, afterwards it’s best they look for food for themselves as spring is here. So I’ve made the stew although I haven’t fed them during winter. I can tell they enjoyed it as nothing was left when I came back two hours ago.


                        Dear Diary

                        Cousin Lisa came calling yesterday morning and she tells us there’s some in the Village have come down with sickness. Of course it would be Lisa being the bearer of such news, her face lit up when I tell her I have heard nothing. Cook, over hearing our conversation, which was private but Cook is always sticking her great nose in where it is not required, she’s hung braids of garlic at the front door. I caught her telling the children it was to keep away the evil spirits that brought death. Poor little Jimmy couldn’t sleep last night he was that afraid of the spirits bringing death in the night. He asked endless questions,  how will the garlic stop them? Can the spirits get in through a window instead? He got his sister afraid also and the pair of them wouldn’t sleep then for crying in fear. I told Cook off roundly this morning for speaking to them thus.

                        The master came home filled with drink, crashing around like the damned drunken fool he is nowadays. He shouted at the children for their crying and shouted at me for not keeping them quiet. At least he did not raise his fists for he wanted to lie with me and I nearly retched with his stinking breath coming close and thank God for His mercies that the fool passed out before he could do the deed. I may have done harm if he’d tried for the brass bell was sitting there on the table (and it is a heavy thing) and I was seeing at it as he came close and there was a moment I could have picked it up and crashed it to his skull. May God forgive me. 

                        He makes my skin crawl for I know what he has done that he thinks I don’t know. But all will come to light if not in this world then the next. I am more sure than ever I must get away and the children with me.


                        Ella Marie looked at the peculiar child sitting on the car seat next to her.  This was no normal kid, she knew that much. Looked like one, except that expression on his face, well! That was no baby looking out of those eyes. And the thoughts she was hearing coming from him! Ella Marie shivered and gave him another sidelong glance. He caught her eye and winked. Winked!

                        “Well if this all aint the darnedest thing,” she said aloud.

                        Echoing her thoughts, Jacqui agreed. “In all my years as a nanny I’ve never seen a wee bairn like this.  He’s giving me the creeps.”

                        “Rude old bag,” thought the child,  his face reddening. “Take that,” as he filled his disposable diaper.

                        Ella Marie gasped, reading his mind.


                          The thoughts of Miss Bossy asking him to torture sweet Sophie still bothered Ric while he went out to look for the reporter. Could he even call her that, he suspected most of her articles were fake news and even if they had at some point come from a seed of truth, they were so transformed by her retelling that it was impossible to prove them in any direction, be it false or true.

                          Ric found sweet Sophie sleeping on the couch of the waiting room in a very unwomanly position. Fortunately she didn’t wear a skirt. Her mouth was wide open and a stream of saliva was dropping from her chin. She even snored. Ric was put off by her pink trousers and electric blue jacket. Did she colour her hair? he thought. They looked a bit purple.

                          Sweet Sophie snorted and emerged from slumber totally unaware she was observed.

                          “Oh! Dear time travel Goddess! What a dream!” she said. “Ric. You come at the right time. I have to tell you some revelations about the Doctor!”


                          “What?” asked Miss Bossy when Ric told her about Sophie’s dream. “Nonsense! Sweet Sophie having precognitive dreams? Time travel wasn’t enough for that old hag. And you’re saying she requested a daydreaming room to continue her investigations, with ambiant music and ayahuasca? I’m not financing her drug cravings.”


                          Sophie entered the dark room. She didn’t think it would work, to ask Ric for the daydreaming room. She tried the couch. Soft but not too soft, hard enough for her back. Oh! Sweet Time Lord, what a relief from the open space chair. An instrument of torture if you asked her.

                          She had developed an obsession with the Doctor, and it all came from a dream she had just before Ric found her. In that dream, she was really attracted to the Doctor—who looked just like an old crush of her—, and he was showing her his amazing inventions, telling her about his superior mind, his poignant history and all the great things he did during his famous time. So…yeah. She kind of finally fell in love with him for the second time. Then he confessed her he was so sorry for what he did, it made her cry almost. He said it was stupid of him and he still thought she is his daughter— that’s when she thought she had lost track of the dream timeline and in another moment she found another crazy coincidence that turns every possible event to pure insane: The Doctor has a new body. Not in the literal sense. He hasn’t even given it a whole new look. Instead, it has a completely bizarre look with its entire body filled with…

                          That’s when she had awaken. That’s why she needed the couch and the room and the plant. She had seen in a video that it could help.

                          Someone knocked at the door and brought in a silver plate with a steaming muddy potion.


                            What were they doing with all those incontinent pads anyway? Three boxes of 48 pads in two days was impossible to account for. What could they be doing with them? Nurse Trassie frowned as she refilled the bathroom shelf, counting out another dozen. On a hunch, she put some rubber gloves on and rummaged through the trash. If she counted the soiled ones in the bin, she’d know how many were unaccounted for. Only sixteen in the trash, so where were all the rest? That’s, er, 34 missing, no wait, 36? no, 32. Well whatever, she gave up on the maths of it all, it was clear that most of them had gone missing.


                            For a moment, Granola felt in a dream world. It wasn’t the first time it happened, so she relaxed, and let her consciousness focus despite the distraction from the shimmering and vibrating around the objects and people.

                            She was in another mental space, but this one was more solid, not just a diversion born from a single thought or a single mind. It was built in layers of cooperation, alignment, and pyramid energy. A shared vision, although at times, a confused one.

                            The first time she’d visited, she thought it was a fun fantasy, like a dream, quickly enjoyed and discarded. But then she would come back at times, and the fantasy world continued to expand and feel lively.

                            It slowly dawned on her that this was a projection of an old project of her friends. The more striking was how people in the place looked a bit like Maeve’s dolls, but she could see the other’s imprints —Shaw-Paul’s, Lucinda’s and Jerk’s—, subtle energy currents driving the characters and animating everything.

                            It felt like a primordial fount of creativity, and she basked in the glorious feeling of it.

                            Once, she got trapped long enough to start exploring the “place” in and out, and it all became curiouser when she found out that the places and the stories they told were all connected through a central underground stream.
                            Granola had been an artist most of her life, so she understood how creativity worked. Before she died, she had been intrigued the first time her online friends had mentioned this collaboration game, creating that mindspace filled with their barmy stories. She didn’t believe such pure mental creation could be called real at all.
                            Maybe that was the kind of comments that let her friends forget it.
                            If only she could tell them now!

                            “You could, if you’d hone your pop-in skills, dear”, a random character suddenly turned to her and spoke in the voice of Ailill, her blue mentor.
                            “But how can you see me? I’ve tried and the characters of these stories don’t ever see me!”
                            “That’s what popping in is all about, justly so!” Ailill had this way of making her mind race for a spin.
                            “Now, will you stop hijacking this person, and tell me why you’re interrupting my present mission?” Granola turned burgundy red, increased her typeface a few notches, and pushed her ghost leg vigorously at the story character.
                            “Oh, you are right about that. It is a mission.” he smiled, “I think you’d want to go find certain characters, or avatars. Your friends personae are always shifting into new characters, but they hide themselves and don’t progress. Actually, some of them are trapped in loops, and those loops are not happily ever after. You can help free them, so they can recover their trapped creativity.”
                            “Well, that doesn’t sound like an impossibly vague mission at all!”

                            She was about to continue ranting, but the pop-in effect was gone, and the character was back to his routine, unperturbed by her ghostly agitation.


                            The next morning Fox woke up exhausted. He was surprised he could even sleep at all. The sound of someone walking in the snow filled in his ears and he looked around him. There was nobody in the cave with him, except for one little rat looking at him from the top of a bag of food. Fox shooed it away with wide movements of his arms and he regretted immediately when all the warmth kept under the blankets dissolved in the cold morning air. But he noticed there was improvement in his health as he felt hungry.

                            He decided it was no good being lazy in a bed and put on a few more layers of clothes. He took some dry oatcakes from the bag where the rat had looked at him earlier, and made sure they were securely wrapped before he left the cave.

                            The air was clear and crisp, and the ground had been covered in a thick layer of blinding white snow. The brightness hurt Fox’s eyes and he had to cover then with his hands. He walked towards Rukshan’s voice and his heart leaped in his chest when he recognised their friend Lhamom. She had come at last. She looked at Fox.

                            “You look dreadful,” she said. “It is time I got to you.”
                            “Yes,” said Fox, and he was surprised that this simple word could carry such great relief.

                            That’s when Fox noticed the big old spoon Lhamom had in her hands.

                            “This is the magical artefact we were looking for. I found it on my way to see you and fortunately I had chocolate bars with me that I could trade for it with the monks.”

                            Fox’s stomach growled. Maybe he would have preferred she kept the chocolate.

                            “Does that mean that we can go home?” asked Fox, a tear in his eyes.

                            Rukshan gave his friend a strange look before answering.

                            “Yes. We are going… home.”

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